Can Wasps Revolutionize Robotic Surgery?
Indian Institute of Science say wasp research may lead to tools that assist in robotic surgery.
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed May 30, 2014

Researchers from Indian Institute of Science have found that the egg-laying organs of wasps (ovipositors) have saw-like teeth coated with zinc. They lay eggs inside figs by drilling into the fruit. Insights gained from this study may help build tools that can aid in robot-assisted surgery, and novel mechanisms to bore through hard surfaces.

Boring into various surfaces to lay eggs is part of the female insect’s life. To successfully drill holes, and lay eggs in safe places, the insects have to overcome some key bio-mechanical challenges. Namrata Gundiah, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IISc and Lakshminath Kundanati, student, have shed light on how the egg laying organ of parasitoid wasps doubles up as a reliable drilling machine, says a press release from the IISc.

Each Fig, with a fleshy part in the inside called syconium, has its own wasp species, the pollinator wasp, which enters the syconium through a special opening and lays its eggs. The flowers get pollinated by the female wasp walking around inside. There are other wasps, called parasitoid wasps, which don’t pollinate or benefit the fig plant in any way. They sit outside the fig, drill a hole through the outer covering and lay eggs inside. The larvae of parasitoid wasps feed on the pollinator wasp larvae, making the inside of a fig a populated war zone.

A pollinator wasp has to enter the fig through a hole made for it, it has a smooth ovipositor. However, a parasitoid wasp that has to bore a hole through the fig needs to have a strong ovipositor. Through techniques like Scanning Electron Microscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy, researchers have deciphered what the two ovipositors are made of.

Source: The New Indian Express

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