The Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change

is a research museum of the Leibniz Association

Radula properties in marine Heterobranchia



Quick facts

Project title: 
Trophic specialization of nudibranch gastropods – integrating radular morphology, material properties and ecology
ZFMK Project lead: 
Object of research: 
Gastropoda, Nudibranchia, Radula


Marine Heterobranchia contain thousands of species and each of them is highly specialized to a certain prey type. They either forage on sessile organisms like algae, sponges, hydroids, bryozoan, tunicates, or barnacles. But some also feed on polychaets, or even congeners. Due to their specialization, marine heterobranchs are of high interest when studying trophic adaptations in the molluscan mouthpart, the radula.

In this project we investigate the biomechanics of the radular teeth, which can be regarded as adaptations to the food source, in selected heterobranch taxa. Radular morphology and its surrounding is documented by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and histology. Additionally, the mechanical properties of the teeth, i.e. hardness and elasticity, are tested by nanoindentation technique. By applying confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), micro gradients in the teeth, which have their origin in the degree of tanning, are identified and related with the food.


Contact person

Head of Section
+49 228 9122-241
+49 228 9122-295
h.waegele [at]