, Volume 132, Issue 2, pp 183–195 | Cite as

Diversity and potential correlations to the function of Collembola cuticle structures

  • Julia NickerlEmail author
  • Ralf Helbig
  • Hans-Jürgen Schulz
  • Carsten Werner
  • Christoph Neinhuis
Original Paper


Collembola (springtails) are soil arthropods, representing the most widespread hexapod group worldwide. Being skin-breathing animals, Collembola evolved special cuticular patterns, which are robust and antiadhesive allowing cuticular respiration under humid conditions in the soil environment. Details about function and formation of these unique cuticle characters are still unknown. Here we demonstrate that a high diversity of cuticular structures exists and that the different observed structural patterns of Collembola cuticles might go along with specific adaptations to life in soil. We examined the cuticle structures of 40 different species using scanning electron microscopy and compared the cuticle patterns of the different species with information about their preferred habitat. In addition, we compare the results with current systematic concepts, showing that certain cuticle structures are typical for different collembolan groups.


Collembola Cuticle Primary granule Secondary granule Diversity Eu-/Hemi-/Ep-edaphic life forms 



Markus Günther of the Institute of Botany at the Technical University Dresden is kindly acknowledged for assistance with the scanning electron microscope.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia Nickerl
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ralf Helbig
    • 1
  • Hans-Jürgen Schulz
    • 3
  • Carsten Werner
    • 1
    • 4
  • Christoph Neinhuis
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research DresdenMax Bergmann Center of BiomaterialsDresdenGermany
  2. 2.Institute of BotanyTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany
  3. 3.Department of Soil Zoology, Section ApterygotaSenckenberg Museum of Natural History GörlitzGörlitzGermany
  4. 4.B CUBE Innovation Center for Molecular BioengineeringTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany

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