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Investigation of the transduction mechanism of infrared detection in Melanophila acuminata: photo-thermal–mechanical hypothesis


Differential phase optical low coherence reflectometry (OLCR) was used to detect sub-wavelength displacements in the infrared-sensitive thoracic pit organ of Melanophila acuminata (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) upon absorption of infrared radiation at 3.39 microm. The displacement had more complex morphology but similar amplitude ( approximately 100 nm at 1 W cm(-2)) when compared to the displacement measured from the exocuticle in an alternate region on the beetle's body. In addition, a simplified finite difference model was developed to predict the temperature distribution and resultant thermal expansion in the pit organ tissue. The experimental and model results were interpreted to help clarify the mechanism by which the sensilla in the pit organ convert infrared radiation to neural signals. The results of this paper are discussed in relation to the photo-thermal-mechanical transduction hypothesis. This is the first experimental examination of the transduction mechanism in Melanophila acuminata.

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