The architecture of the joint head cuticle and its transition to the arthrodial membrane in the terrestrial crustacean Porcellio scaber
Sprache des Titels:
The cuticle of terrestrial isopods is an interesting model for the study of structure-function relationships in biological composite materials. Its organic matrix has a hierarchically organised structure, and type and phase of the mineral compound can vary. The cuticle forms functionally diverse skeletal elements whose properties are adapted to their specific functions. In order to better understand the relation between structure, composition and function of isopod cuticle, we studied the structure and composition of the joint head that is part of the pereiopod?s basis. It consists of a central region, whose shape fits well into the joint socket, and an edge region that is connected to the soft arthrodial membrane and protects the central region from mechanical load. The cuticle architecture of the joint head has local variations in structure and composition. In the central region the cuticle is similar to the previously published tergite cuticle. High concentrations of amorphous calcium phosphate are located in the endocuticle suggesting a coexistence with amorphous calcium carbonate. The edge region has an unexpected organisation characterised by thickening of the epi- and exocuticle and an unusual unidirectional orientation of chitin-protein fibrils within the endocuticle. The concentrations of phosphate are considerably higher than in the central region. The overall differentiation in the cuticular architecture of the edge in comparison to the central region reflects the adaptation to mechanical strains the cuticle has to sustain during contraction of extensor muscles, and to the structural and compositional transition from the edge to the connecting arthrodial membrane.