Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Protein 'Springs' Simplify Control Of Crustacean Limb Movements

Date:
June 1, 2009
Source:
BioMed Central
Summary:
Animals can simplify the brain control of their limb movements by moving a joint with just one muscle that operates against a spring made of the almost perfect elastic substance called resilin. This principle is analyzed and illustrated by striking photographs and high-speed video footage of the movements of the mouthparts of crabs and crayfish.

Still image of video footage showing maxilliped movement.

Animals can simplify the brain control of their limb movements by moving a joint with just one muscle that operates against a spring made of the almost perfect elastic substance called resilin. This principle is analysed and illustrated by striking photographs and high-speed video footage, published in the open access journal BMC Biology, of the movements of the mouthparts of crabs and crayfish.

Malcolm Burrows from the University of Cambridge, UK investigated the presence of resilin, an elastic protein found in many insects and crustaceans, in crabs and crayfish caught in Norfolk and Cambridge, UK, and in Washington, USA. He said, "The exquisite rubbery properties of resilin are known to be put to use as energy storage mechanisms in jumping insects and as biological shock absorbers in many animals. I have now shown that it is used to simplify the sensory and motor control systems at a limb joint."

The limbs studied, called maxillipeds, move rhythmically to deflect the exhalent water currents emerging from the gills. According to Burrows, the water currents created by these movements have two important roles. First, as an active sensor; water is drawn from a wide area in front of the animal over the sensory neurons around its mouth. The flow created in this way mixes odor molecules in the water and thus enables better odor acquisition and sampling. It may also allow an assessment of the amount of particulate matter in the exhalent current that might indicate that the gills need cleaning. Second, as an active communication and signaling mechanism; the currents created distribute odor molecules in the urine released into them and act as a signal to other animals, particularly of their own species.

Burrows suggests that the use of resilin springs can have two cost saving advantages. First, by saving the space that would be required for a muscle to do the job of 'resetting' the movement, the resilin spring allows the muscle that generates the power stroke to become larger and hence more powerful. Second, the amount of nervous control required can be reduced because one direction of movement is controlled automatically by a spring. As a result of this natural engineering, these limbs of the crab Carcinus maenas can beat in a coordinated way at a remarkable 20 times a second.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Malcolm Burrows. A single muscle moves a crustacean limb joint rhythmically by acting against a spring containing resilin. BMC Biology, 2009; (in press) [link]

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central. "Protein 'Springs' Simplify Control Of Crustacean Limb Movements." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090528203741.htm>.
BioMed Central. (2009, June 1). Protein 'Springs' Simplify Control Of Crustacean Limb Movements. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090528203741.htm
BioMed Central. "Protein 'Springs' Simplify Control Of Crustacean Limb Movements." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090528203741.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins