Finite Element Modeling of Arachnid Slit sensilla-I. The Mechanical Significance of Different Slit Arrays

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2007 Apr;193(4):445-59. doi: 10.1007/s00359-006-0201-y. Epub 2006 Dec 21.


Arachnid strain sensitive slit sensilla are elongated openings in the cuticle with aspect ratios (slit length l/slit width b) of up to 100. Planar Finite Element (FE) models are used to calculate the relative slit face displacements, Dc, at the centers of single slits and of arrangements of mechanically interacting slits under uni-axial compressive far-field loads. Our main objective is to quantitatively study the role of the following geometrical parameters in stimulus transformation: aspect ratio, slit shape, geometry of the slits' centerlines, load direction, lateral distance S, longitudinal shift lambda, and difference in slit length Deltal between neighboring slits. Slit face displacements are primarily sensitive to slit length and load direction but little affected by aspect ratios between 20 and 100. In stacks of five parallel slits at lateral distances typical of lyriform organs (S=0.03 l) the longitudinal shift lambda substantially influences slit compression. A change of lambda from 0 to 0.85 l causes changes of up to 420% in Dc. Even minor morphological variations in the arrangements can substantially influence the stimulus transformation. The site of transduction in real slit sensilla does not always coincide with the position of maximum slit compression predicted by simplified models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachnida / physiology*
  • Arachnida / ultrastructure
  • Computer Simulation
  • Extremities / innervation
  • Extremities / physiology*
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Mechanoreceptors / ultrastructure
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / ultrastructure
  • Spiders / physiology
  • Spiders / ultrastructure
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology