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.

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 October 21, 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 October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) Gertjie the Rhino and Lammie the Lamb are teaching the world about animal conservation and friendship. TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) has the adorable video! Video provided by Buzz60
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