Brochosome

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Brochosomes, the most common type.

Brochosomes are intricately structured microscopic granules secreted by leafhoppers (the family Cicadellidae of the insect order Hemiptera) and typically found on their body surface and, more rarely, eggs. Brochosomes were first described in 1952 with the aid of an electron microscope.[1][2] These particles have also been found in samples of air[3] and can easily contaminate foreign objects, which explains erroneous reports of brochosomes on other insects[4]

Structure and composition[edit]

A model of a typical brochosome from leafhopper integument (on the right dissected to show the interior).[5]

The name, derived from the Greek words βρóχoς (mesh of a net) and σωμα (body), refers to the characteristic reticulated surface of the granules. Most species of leafhoppers produce hollow spherical brochosomes, 0.2–0.7 micrometres in diameter, with a honeycombed outer wall. The latter often comprises 20 hexagonal and 12 pentagonal cells, making the outline of each brochosome approximating a truncated icosahedron – the geometry of a soccer ball and a C60 buckminsterfullerene molecule. The chemical composition of brochosomes includes proteins and, according to some studies, lipids.[6][7]

Origin[edit]

Brochosomes are produced within cells of specialized glandular segments of the Malpighian tubules – the primary excretory organs of insects, which often serve additional functions. Each cell simultaneously manufactures a large number of brochosomes within its Golgi complexes and eventually releases them into the lumen of the tubule.[6][7][8][9]

Functions[edit]

A freshly molted female of Igutettix oculatus (Ldb.) uses its hind tibiae to transfer brochosome-containing secretory droplets from the anus (left) onto the forewings (middle), where the sediment of brochosomes dries as a pair of white spots (right), sometimes erroneously referred to as "wax areas".

After each molt, most species of leafhoppers release droplets of the brochosome-containing fluid through the anus and actively spread them over the newly formed integument.[10][11][12] This behavior is called anointing.[11] Dry brochosomes are further distributed across the body and appendages in repeated bouts of grooming, in which leafhoppers scrub themselves with their legs. The transport of brochosomes is facilitated by groups and rows of strong setae on the legs. The resulting coating makes the integument highly repellent to water (superhydrophobic)[5] and to the leafhopper’s own liquid excreta,[13] the latter often being sugary and sticky, and thus potentially dangerous for the insect. Additional protective functions of the brochosomal coating have been hypothesized.[12]

In several New World genera of the leafhopper subfamily Cicadellinae (including the glassy-winged sharpshooter and related species) brochosomes are also used as a coating to egg masses.[14][15] In gravid females from these genera, the Malpighian tubules switch over[9] from production of regular brochosomes, described above, to production of larger, typically elongate particles, up to 20 micrometres in length. Prior to laying eggs, the female places masses of such brochosomes onto its forewings, and later scrapes them off onto the freshly laid eggs with its hindlegs.[15] The resulting powdery coat may serve various protective functions, including protection against egg-parasitoids from the order Hymenoptera (Chalcidoidea).[16] The shape and sculpture of such "egg" brochosomes can vary significantly among species, providing additional characters for species recognition.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tulloch G.S., Shapiro J.E. & Cochran G.W. (1952) The occurrence of ultramicroscopic bodies with leafhoppers and mosquitoes. Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society 47: 41-42.
  2. ^ Day M.F. & M. Briggs (1958) The origin and structure of brochosomes. Journal of Ultrastructural Research 2: 239-244. PMID 13631751
  3. ^ Wittmaack K. (2005) Brochosomes produced by leafhoppers - a widely unknown, yet highly abundant species of bioaerosols in ambient air. Atmospheric Environment 39: 1173-1180.
  4. ^ Rakitov R.A. (2011) Contamination as the cause of erroneous records of brochosomes. Psyche: A Journal of Entomology 2011, Article ID 767963, doi:10.1155/2011/767963.
  5. ^ a b Rakitov R. & Gorb S.N. (2013) Brochosomal coats turn leafhopper (Insecta, Hemiptera, Cicadellidae) integument to superhydrophobic state. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 7 February 2013 vol. 280 no. 1752 20122391, doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.2391.
  6. ^ a b Smith D.S. & Littau V.G. (1960) Cellular specialization in the excretory epithelia of an insect, Macrosteles fascifrons Stål (Homoptera). Journal of Cell Biology 8: 103-133.
  7. ^ a b Gouranton J. & Maillet P.L. (1967) Origine et structure des brochosomes. Journal de Microscopie 6: 53-64.
  8. ^ Rakitov R.A. (1999) Secretory products of the Malpighian tubules of Cicadellidae (Hemiptera, Membracoidea): an ultrastructural study. International Journal of Insect Morphology and Embryology 28: 179-192. doi:10.1078/0044-5231-00025
  9. ^ a b Rakitov R.A. (2000) Secretion of brochosomes during the ontogenesis of a leafhopper, Oncometopia orbona (F.) (Insecta, Homoptera, Cicadellidae). Tissue & Cell 32: 28-39. PMID 10798315
  10. ^ Navone P. (1987) Origine, struttura e funzioni di escreti e secreti entomatici di aspetto ceroso distribuiti sul corpo mediante zampe. Annali della Facolta‘ di Scienze Agrarie della Universita‘ degli Studi di Torino 14: 237-294.
  11. ^ a b Rakitov R.A. (1996) Post-moulting behaviour associated with Malpighian tubule secretions in leafhoppers and treehoppers (Auchenorrhyncha: Membracoidea). European Journal of Entomology 93: 167-184.
  12. ^ a b Rakitov R.A. (2009) Brochosomal coatings of the integument of leafhoppers (Hemiptera, Cicadellidae). In: S.N. Gorb (ed.), Functional Surfaces in Biology, Vol. 1, 113-137. ISBN 978-1-4020-6696-2.
  13. ^ Rakitov R. & Gorb S.N. (2013) Brochosomes protect leafhoppers (Insecta, Hemiptera, Cicadellidae) from sticky exudates. “Journal of the Royal Society Interface” vol. 10: 20130445, doi:10.1098/rsif.2013.0445.
  14. ^ Hix R.L. (2001) Egg-laying and brochosome production observed in glassy-winged sharpshooter. California Agriculture 50 (4): 19-22.
  15. ^ a b c Rakitov R.A. (2004) Powdering of egg nests with brochosomes and related sexual dimorphism in leafhoppers (Insecta, Hemiptera, Cicadellidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 140: 353-381 doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2003.00103.x
  16. ^ Velema H.-P., Hemerik L., Hoddle M.S. & Luck R.F. (2005) Brochosome influence on parasitisation efficiency of Homalodisca coagulata (Say) (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) egg masses by Gonatocerus ashmeadi Girault (Hymenoptera: Mymaridae). Ecological Entomology 30: 485-496. doi:10.1111/j.0307-6946.2005.00731.x

External links[edit]

  • Brochosomes by R. A. Rakitov, Illinois Natural History Survey