Discovery of a lipid synthesising organ in the auditory system of an insect

Lomas, Kathryn F., Greenwood, David R., Windmill, James F.C., Jackson, Joseph C., Corfield, Jeremy, & Parsons, Stuart (2012) Discovery of a lipid synthesising organ in the auditory system of an insect. PLOS ONE, 7(12), e51486.

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Abstract

Weta possess typical Ensifera ears. Each ear comprises three functional parts: two equally sized tympanal membranes, an underlying system of modified tracheal chambers, and the auditory sensory organ, the crista acustica. This organ sits within an enclosed fluid-filled channel-previously presumed to be hemolymph. The role this channel plays in insect hearing is unknown. We discovered that the fluid within the channel is not actually hemolymph, but a medium composed principally of lipid from a new class. Three-dimensional imaging of this lipid channel revealed a previously undescribed tissue structure within the channel, which we refer to as the olivarius organ. Investigations into the function of the olivarius reveal de novo lipid synthesis indicating that it is producing these lipids in situ from acetate. The auditory role of this lipid channel was investigated using Laser Doppler vibrometry of the tympanal membrane, which shows that the displacement of the membrane is significantly increased when the lipid is removed from the auditory system. Neural sensitivity of the system, however, decreased upon removal of the lipid-a surprising result considering that in a typical auditory system both the mechanical and auditory sensitivity are positively correlated. These two results coupled with 3D modelling of the auditory system lead us to hypothesize a model for weta audition, relying strongly on the presence of the lipid channel. This is the first instance of lipids being associated with an auditory system outside of the Odentocete cetaceans, demonstrating convergence for the use of lipids in hearing.

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3 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 79737
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051486
ISSN: 1932-6203
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Lomas et al.
Copyright Statement: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Deposited On: 06 Jan 2015 04:36
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2015 04:32

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