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July 2020. Organization of the symposia Predation: From Morphology and Biomechanics to Evolution, Functional Morphology and Biomechanics of Motion and Phasmatodea and Related Insects by Thies Büscher, Sebastian Büsse and Stanislav Gorb at the International Congress of Entomology in Helsinki, Finland. Website
2019/07/17. Plenary talk by Sebastian Büsse about Biomechanics of the predatory strike in Odonata larva at the International Congress of Odonatology in Texas, U.S. Website

July 2019. Thies Büscher received the Ian Abercrombie Award at the Phasmid Study Group Meeting in London, England for outstanding achievements in phasmid research. Website
July 2019. Organization of the session Functional Micro- and Nano-Structures in Biology at the Society of Experimental Biology annual meeting in Seville, Spain. The goal of this session was to bring together scientists coming from different research fields including zoology, botany, biomechanics, surface science, engineering and biomimetics and to boost innovation in research and eventual industrial developments. Website

Public Relations

2019 J. R. Soc. Interface. The journey of the pollen For allergy sufferers, the pollination period is a tough time, whereas for plants it is the opportunity to reproduce: in addition to the wind, insects, in particular, carry the pollen from one flower to another to pollinate them. During this transport, the pollen must repeatedly attach to and detach from different surfaces. To date, the underlying adhesive mechanisms have hardly been studied so far. Now, scientists from the Zoological Instituteat Kiel University (CAU) have discovered that the mechanisms are far more complex than previously assumed. They differ depending on the duration of the contact and the microstructure of the surfaces. In their study presented in the current issue of the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, they found a unique pollen gripping mechanism on the receptive female part of plants for the first time. The results could provide important knowledge for the transport of medicinal substances, and also - in light of the alarming decline in insect populations - for the development of alternative strategies in agriculture and food production. Their findings have been published in the current issue of the Journal of Royal Society Interface and in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
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2019 J. R. Soc. Interface. What keeps spiders on the ceiling? Hunting spiders easily climb vertical surfaces or move upside down on the ceiling. A thousand tiny hairs at the ends of their legs make sure they do not fall off. Like the spider’s exoskeleton, these bristle-like hairs (so-called setae) mainly consist of proteins and chitin, which is a polysaccharide. To find out more about their fine structure, an interdisciplinary research team from the Biology and Physics departments at Kiel University and the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht (HZG) examined the molecular structure of these hairs in closer detail. Using highly energetic X-ray light, the researchers discovered that the chitin molecules of the setae are specifically arranged to withstand the stresses of constant attachment and detachment. Their findings could be the basis for highly resilient future materials. They have been published in the current issue of the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Original Paper
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2018 Applied Materials & Interfaces. Natural nanofibres made of cellulose. The seeds of some plants such as basil, watercress or plantain form a mucous envelope as soon as they come into contact with water. This cover consists of cellulose in particular, which is an important structural component of the primary cell wall of green plants, and swelling pectins, plant polysaccharides. In order to be able to investigate its physical properties, a research team from the Zoological Institute at Kiel University (CAU) used a special drying method, which gently removes the water from the cellulosic mucous sheath. The team discovered that this method can produce extremely strong nanofibres from natural cellulose. In future, they could be especially interesting for applications in biomedicine. The team’s results recently appeared as the cover story in the journal Applied Materials & Interfaces. Original Paper
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2018 Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition. Kiel scientist successful in Photo Competition of the Royal Society. The Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition is one of the world’s most famous competitions for research photography. Hamed Rajabi, scientist in the Functional Morphology and Biomechanics working group at Kiel University (CAU), was able to convince the expert jury with his photo and won second place in the “microimaging” category. The photo shows a microscope image of the wing of the Acisoma panorpoides dragonfly. During the lifetime of a flying insect, their wings are subjected to random collisions. These collisions often cause irreversible damage to the wings and may considerably affect the insect’s ability to fly. Original Paper
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2018 J. R. Soc. Interface. Bending without breaking - How insects feel around their environment. For hundreds of millions of years, insects have used specialized antennae to explore their surroundings. For this tactile exploration, the antennae have to stiff enough to allow for active, controlled movement, while at the same time compliant enough to prevent damage when coming into contact with objects. How do insects solve this problem? And can the solution be used for biologically inspired robots? In an interdisciplinary project, researchers from Kiel University, Bielefeld University, and the Hochschule Bremen City University of Applied Sciences are working together to get to the bottom of this question. Original Paper
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2018 J. R. Soc. Interface. Competing with barnacle cement- anti-adhesive surfaces in the sea. Sessile marine organisms usually use glues to stick to natural and, unfortunately, man-made surfaces. Conventional strategies to protect man-made surfaces against this so called “biofouling” constantly release harmful chemicals into the marine environment. Based on physical principles only, Petersen and co-workers present a new promising and emission-free coating that can prevent permanent adhesion of barnacles. The coating combines a soft silicone-based material with a re-entrant, non-wettable surface topography. Barnacles don’t completely wet the coating, and thus can’t form a reliable adhesive joint with it. For that reason they stick very poorly and can be detached by e.g. natural water flow without any harmful impact on the environment. The results were published in the scientific journal Journal of the royal society interface on 22 August 2018. DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2018.0396 Original Paper
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2018 Advanced Materials/ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. Inspired by feet. Geckos, spiders and beetles have shown us how to do it: thanks to special adhesive elements on their feet, they can easily run along ceilings or walls. The science of bionics tries to imitate and control such biological functions, for technological applications and the creation of artificial materials. A research team from Kiel University (CAU) has now succeeded in boosting the adhesive effect of a silicone material significantly. To do so they combined two methods: First, they structured the surface on the micro scale based on the example of beetle feet, and thereafter treated it with plasma. In addition, they found out that the adhesiveness of the structured material changes drastically, if it is bent to varying degrees. Among other areas of application, their results could be interesting for the development of tiny robots and gripping devices. They have been published in the latest editions of the scientific journals Advanced Materials and ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. Original Paper
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2018 J. R. Soc. Interface. Self-adhesive ghosts. They live between leaves almost everywhere on earth, grow to between one and 60 centimetres in size, and are considered to be masters of camouflage: we are talking about stick insects and leaf insects (Phasmatodea). Their specialities include not only camouflage, but also the attachment pads on their feet, with special microstructures which enable them to grip a wide variety of surfaces. A research duo at Kiel University (CAU), with international support from Russia and Switzerland, has discovered that these attachment microstructures (AMS) are as diverse as the creatures themselves. The scientists have published the results of their evolutionary biology study in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface in London. Original Paper
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2018 New thematic series of Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology. The thematic series Biological and biomimetic surfaces: adhesion, friction and wetting phenomena edited by Stanislav N. Gorb (Kiel University), Kerstin Koch (Hochschule Rhein-Waal) and Lars Heepe(Kiel University) discusses experimental methods for the characterization of biological surfaces at the micro- and nanoscale. It combines approaches from biology, physics, chemistry, materials science, and engineering and therefore represents an example of modern interdisciplinary science. All papers in the series are Open Access Platinum. Original Issue (Open Access): Web
2017 Acta Biomaterialia. Dragonfly wings with shock absorbers. Dragonflies are well known for their impressive flying skills. They manage manoeuvres that other insects are not capable of. The wings of these insects can be moved separately and deformed, enabling quick changes of flight direction. The wing deformability has now been investigated in more detail. A team led by Hamed Rajabi and Professor Stanislav Gorb, from the Zoological Institute at Kiel University (CAU) has now taken a closer look at the characteristics of the individual wing components. These studies on the Asian species, Brachythemis contaminata, have recently been published in the international scientific journal Acta Biomaterialia. The researchers investigated a “shock absorber” on the leading edge of the dragonfly wings, using four different imaging techniques. The findings from the Bachelor thesis of biology student Karen Stamm were also included in the publication. Original Paper
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2017 Acta Biomaterialia. Researchers unlock the secrets of dragonfly wings. Since humans have attempted to fly, we have tried to mimic the flapping action of birds and insects. Scientists have continued to design bioinspired micro-air vehicles (MAVs) with flapping wings, but there is a gap between the proficiency of even the most novel flying machine and the simplest insect. That gap can only be addressed by a better understanding of exactly how insect wings work. Researchers from Kiel University in Germany and the Islamic Azad University in Iran believe that their approach can unlock the design principles of the wings of one of nature’s most remarkable aeronauts, the dragonfly. Original Paper
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2017 Science Robotics. Bioinspired intelligent material transports micro-objects. An interdisciplinary research team from Biology (E. Kizilkan, S. N. Gorb) and Chemistry (J. Strueben, A. Staubitz) has now succeeded in developing a bioinspired adhesive material that can be controlled remotely by using UV light. This way it is possible to precisely transport objects in a micro-range. The findings could be interesting for applications in the fields of robotics and medical technology. The Kiel-based research team's results were published in the scientific journal Science Robotics on 18 January. Sci. Robot. 2, eaak9454 (2017). DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aak9454 Original Paper
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2017 J. R. Soc. Interface. Silk attachment of the pupae and last instar caterpillars of the tea bagworm to the leaves of its host plant. The silk attachment of the pupae and last instar caterpillars of the tea bagworm Eumeta minuscula (Lepidoptera, Psychidae) to the leaves of its host plant Ilex chinensis was experimentally studied. We found that the bagworms spin attachment discs similar to a plaque consisting of numerous overlaid, looped glue-coated silk fibres and the medially attaching suspension thread. The field observations and structural data show that bagworms remove the leaf epidermis prior to silk attachment, in order to ensure a reliable contact to the plant substrate. J. R. Soc. Interface, 2017, 14: 20170007. DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2017.0007. Original Paper
2017 New thematic series of Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology. The thematic series Biological and Biomimetic Materials and Surfaces edited by Stanislav N. Gorb (Kiel University) and Thomas Speck (Freiburg University) discusses numerous experimental methods for the characterization of the mechanical properties of biological materials and surfaces at the micro- and nanoscale. It combines approaches from biology, physics, chemistry, materials science, and engineering and therefore represents an example of modern interdisciplinary science. All papers in the series are Open Access. Original Issue (Open Access)

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