The Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change

is a research museum of the Leibniz Association

Defensive secretions and defense glands of a Siphonocryptida



Quick facts

Project title: 
Biochemical analyses of the defensive secretions and morphological investigation of the defense glands of a Siphonocryptida
ZFMK Project lead: 
Object of research: 
Millipedes, Micro-CT Scan, Diplopoda


Millipedes (Diplopoda) were probably among the first animals evolving complex chemical defense secretions as defense mechanism. Thus fossils, showing openings (ozopores) of defense glands (ozadenes), date back to the carboniferous more than 300 million years ago. Unraveling the composition of these secretions and the morphology of the defense glands is important for the understanding of the evolution of chemical defense in millipedes, as well as for a correct reconstruction of the phylogeny of the Diplopoda. Furthermore, defensive secretions of millipedes show antibacterial and antifungal activity, which probably will have application in pharmacy and medicine in the future. So far the defense secretions of all millipede orders possessing ozadenes have been analyzed and published, with two exceptions. The exceptions are the two species-poor groups Siphonocryptida (seven extant species) and Siphoniulida (two extant species). The Siphonocryptida are one of the least studied orders within the Diplopoda. In cooperation with Dr. Michaela Bodner and PD Dr. Günther Raspotnig of the University of Graz as well as Dr. Dragan Antić and Prof. Slobodan Makarov from the University of Belgrade the composition of the defense secretions of the only commonly found siphonocryptid species, Hirudicryptus canariensis, is analyzed. Furthermore, the morphology of the defense glands is investigated using micro-computed tomography, histology and light-microscopy.


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