Corneal Surfaces of 23 Orders of Insects Completely Fit Mathematician Alan Turing’s Model for Formation of Complex Patterns; New Russian Study Focuses on Anti-Reflective 3D Nanocoating of Insect Eyes; First-Ever Biological Example of Turing Nanopatterns

In 1952, the legendary British mathematician and cryptographer Alan Turing proposed a model, which assumes formation of complex patterns through chemical interaction of two diffusing reagents. Russian scientists have recently managed to prove that the corneal surface nanopatterns in 23 insect orders completely fit into this model. Their work was published in the September 22, 2015 issue of PNAS. The article is titled “Diverse Set of Turing Nanopatterns Coat Corneae Across Insect Lineages.” The author state that to their knowledge this is the first-ever biological example of Turing nanopatterns. The study was performed by a team working in the Institute of Protein Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Pushchino, Russia) and the Department of Entomology at the Faculty of Biology of the Lomonosov Moscow State University. It was supervised by Professor Vladimir Katanaev, who also leads a lab at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Dr. Artem Blagodatskiy and Dr. Mikhail Kryuchkov performed the choice and preparation of insect corneal samples and analyzed the data. Dr. Yulia Lopatina from the Lomonosov Moscow State University played the role of expert entomologist, while Dr. Anton Sergeev performed the atomic force microscopy. The initial goal of the study was to characterize the anti-reflective three-dimensional nanopatterns covering insect eye cornea, with respect to the taxonomy of studied insects and to gain insight into their possible evolution path. The result was surprising as the pattern morphology did not correlate with insect position on the evolutionary tree. Instead, Russian scientists have characterized four main morphological corneal nanopatterns, as well as transition forms between them, omnipresent among the insect class.
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