Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Muscular head pumps give long-proboscid fly edge

Date:
December 11, 2013
Source:
Springer
Summary:
A long-proboscid fly with an extra-long, tongue-like proboscis might seem to take extra-long to feed on a flower, but it actually has an advantage over its counterparts with average sized nectar-sipping mouth parts. It can suck up almost all nectar available in a flower in one go, because it has more efficient suction pumps in its head, say researchers.

The extremely long, thin proboscis of insects from the genus Prosoeca (Nemestrinidae) evolved as an adaptation to feeding from long, tubular flowers.
Credit: Springer

A long-proboscid fly with an extra-long, tongue-like proboscis might seem to take extra-long to feed on a flower, but it actually has an advantage over its counterparts with average sized nectar-sipping mouth parts. It can suck up almost all nectar available in a flower in one go, because it has more efficient suction pumps in its head, says Florian Karolyi of the University of Vienna in Austria, about a study he and his team conducted in South Africa's Namaqualand region. The findings are published in Springer's journal Naturwissenschaften -- The Science of Nature.

Related Articles


The extremely long, thin proboscis of insects from the genus Prosoeca (Nemestrinidae) evolved as an adaptation to feeding from long, tubular flowers. The fly inserts its proboscis into the flower and uses it like a straw to suck up nectar. A suction pump in its head creates a pressure gradient along the proboscis, which allows nectar uptake. The nectar with the highest sugar content offers the greatest energy reward.

Biophysical reasoning, however, indicates that the exponential increase of viscosity that goes hand in hand with higher sugar concentrations would make it more difficult to transport sugar-rich liquids through a narrow food canal.Because proboscis length differs visibly among flies from the same species, Karolyi and his team therefore wondered if flies with longer "tongues" spent more time feeding on a flower because they had more trouble sucking up the nectar. This would mean that they expended more energy in the process of gathering nectar.

To study this, the researchers focused on the parasitoid nemestrinid fly genus Prosoeca that feeds on nectar of the Iridaceae, Lapeirousia oreogena. The team captured the insect's behavior on camera, measured the length of its body and proboscis and used X-ray microtomography for investigations of the head muscles. They found the reverse to be true. A longer-proboscid fly sports a more efficient two-part suction pump, while proboscis length and suction pump muscle volume go hand in hand. The fly is thus able to sip up more nectar in a single visit. This allows the insect to gain a possible advantage over other flies with proboscises of an average length.

Analysis of the long-tongued fly's anatomy also suggests that the ancestors of Nemestrinidae might have been blood-sucking insects. "Flies belong to one of the most important but often underestimated groups of flower-visiting and pollinating insects. Our results indicate that the Prosoeca species represents a highly adapted and efficient nectar feeder," says Karolyi.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Florian Karolyi, Linde Morawetz, Jonathan F. Colville, Stephan Handschuh, Brian D. Metscher, Harald W. Krenn. Time management and nectar flow: flower handling and suction feeding in long-proboscid flies (Nemestrinidae: Prosoeca). Naturwissenschaften, 2013; 100 (11): 1083 DOI: 10.1007/s00114-013-1114-6

Cite This Page:

Springer. "Muscular head pumps give long-proboscid fly edge." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211132718.htm>.
Springer. (2013, December 11). Muscular head pumps give long-proboscid fly edge. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211132718.htm
Springer. "Muscular head pumps give long-proboscid fly edge." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211132718.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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