Surface structure and wetting characteristics of Collembola cuticles

PLoS One. 2014 Feb 3;9(2):e86783. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086783. eCollection 2014.


The cuticles of the arthropods Collembola (springtails) are known to be superhydrophobic, displaying such properties as water-repellence and plastron formation; overhanging surface structures have been suggested as the source of these properties. Superhydrophobicity is closely related to surface structuring and other surfaces with overhanging structures have been shown to possess robust superhydrophobic properties. In effort to correlate the wetting performance and surface structuring of the cuticles, from both a technical and evolutionary point of view, we investigated a selection of Collembola species including species from several families and covering habitats ranging from aquatic to very dry. The observed contact angles of wetting was in general larger than those predicted by the conventional models. Not all the studied Collembola were found to have superhydrophobic properties, indicating that superhydrophobicity is common, but not a universal trait in Collembola. Overhanging structures were found in some, but not all Collembola species with superhydrophobic cuticles; which leads to the conclusion that there is no direct link between overhanging surface structures and superhydrophobicity in Collembola.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Structures / anatomy & histology*
  • Animal Structures / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Arthropods / anatomy & histology*
  • Arthropods / classification
  • Arthropods / ultrastructure
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions*
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Species Specificity
  • Surface Properties
  • Wettability*

Grant support

The funding was provided by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU, through a program for strategic funding of materials-related research projects. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.