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Evolution of insect iridescence: origins of three-dimensional photonic crystals in weevils (Coleoptera: Curculionoidea)

DOI: 10.1093/icb/icz040 DOI Help

Authors: Ainsley E. Seago (NSW Department of Primary Industries) , Rolf Oberprieler (CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences) , Vinod Kumar Saranathan (Yale-NUS College; National University of Singapore)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Integrative And Comparative Biology

State: Published (Approved)
Published: May 2019

Open Access Open Access

Abstract: A variety of photonic mechanisms give rise to iridescence and other structural colors in insects. In weevils (Coleoptera: Curculionoidea), iridescence is created by the most complex of these mechanisms, the three-dimensional photonic crystal. These self-assembling crystals take the form of triply periodic networks with single diamond or single gyroid symmetries and have been the subject of many descriptive studies based on individual species (often on a single specimen). To determine how these extraordinary nanostructures have evolved, we conduct the first comparative study of photonic crystals and setal nanostructure across Curculionoidea. By integrating structural data with newly available phylogenetic information, we demonstrate that — despite their widespread geographical and taxonomic distribution — three-dimensional photonic crystals appear to have evolved only once in weevils, in the common ancestor of a clade comprising the current subfamilies Entiminae and Cyclominae. Flattened, hollow setae with an unordered, spongy network in the lumen appear to be a necessary precursor to three-dimensional photonic crystals; we propose an evolutionary pathway by which this transformation has occurred.

Journal Keywords: structural colour; iridescence; self-assembly; photonic crystals; Coleoptera; evolution

Subject Areas: Biology and Bio-materials

Instruments: I22-Small angle scattering & Diffraction

Other Facilities: Advanced Photon Source; Australian Synchrotron

Added On: 30/05/2019 09:10


Discipline Tags:

Life Sciences & Biotech Evolutionary science Soft condensed matter physics

Technical Tags:

Scattering Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS)