Mechanical Resistance in Decapod Claw Denticles: Contribution of Structure and Composition

Rosen, MN, Baran, KA, Sison, JN, Steffel, BV, Long, WC, Foy, RJ, Smith, KE, Aronson, RB and Dickinson, GH 2020 Mechanical Resistance in Decapod Claw Denticles: Contribution of Structure and Composition. Acta Biomaterialia, 110. 196-207.

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The decapod crustacean exoskeleton is a multi-layered structure composed of chitin-protein fibers embedded with calcium salts. Decapod claws display tooth-like denticles, which come into direct contact with predators and prey. They are subjected to more regular and intense mechanical stress than other parts of the exoskeleton and therefore must be especially resistant to wear and abrasion. Here, we characterized denticle properties in five decapod species. Dactyls from three brachyuran crabs (Cancer borealis, Callinectes sapidus, and Chionoecetes opilio) and two anomuran crabs (Paralomis birsteini and Paralithodes camtschaticus) were sectioned normal to the contact surface of the denticle, revealing the interior of the denticle and the bulk endocuticle in which it is embedded. Microhardness, micro- and ultrastructure, and elemental composition were assessed along a transect running the width of the cuticle using microindentation hardness testing, optical and electron microscopy (SEM), and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), respectively. In all species tested, hardness was dramatically higher—up to ten times—in the denticle than in the bulk endocuticle. Likewise, in all species there was an increase in packing density of mineralized chitin-protein fibers, a decrease in width of the pore canals that run through the cuticle, and a decrease in phosphorous content from endocuticle to denticle. The changes in hardness across the cuticle, and the relationship between hardness, calcium, and magnesium content, however, varied among species. Although mechanical resistance of the denticles was exceptionally high in all species, the basis for resistance appears to differ among species.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: Calcification, Microhardness, Cuticle, Biomineralization, Chitin, Calcite, Crustacea
Subjects: Marine Sciences
Divisions: Marine Biological Association of the UK > Ocean Biology
Depositing User: Emily Smart
Date made live: 08 Oct 2021 13:49
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2024 16:54

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