Towards nano-physiology of insects with atomic force microscopy

J Insect Physiol. 2011 Feb;57(2):260-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2010.11.012. Epub 2010 Nov 25.


Little study of insects with modern nanotechnology tools has been done so far. Here we use one of such tool, atomic force microscopy (AFM) to study surface oscillations of the ladybird beetles (Hippodamia convergens) measured in different parts of the insect at picometer level. This allows us to record a much broader spectral range of possible surface vibrations (up to several kHz) than the previously studied oscillations due to breathing, heartbeat cycles, coelopulses, etc. (up to 5-10Hz). Here we demonstrate three different ways with which one can identify the origins of the observed peaks - by physical positioning the probe near a specific organ, and by using biological or chemical stimuli. We report on identification of high frequency peaks associated with H. convergens heart, spiracular closer muscles, and oscillations associated with muscles activated while drinking. The method, being a relatively non-invasive technique providing a new type of information, may be useful in developing "nanophysiology" of insects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coleoptera / physiology*
  • Drinking
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Heart / physiology
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force / methods*
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted