Seminar: “The smaller they are, the harder they fly: how insect flight copes with miniaturization” by Prof. Sanjay P Sane
Prof. Sanjay P Sane, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore, INDIA
The smaller they are, the harder they fly: how insect flight copes with miniaturization
Insect flight is remarkable because their wing movements are both extremely fast and very precisely coordinated. The wing beat frequencies of smaller insects range from 100-1000 Hz. In large part, such high frequency wing motion is essential to ensure sufficient aerodynamic forces to ensure flight in smaller insects. However, faster wing motion also challenges their nervous systems to sense, process and respond to their world at similarly fast rates. Moreover, the bilateral wing movement must be very precisely coordinated, because at such high wing beat frequencies the slightest errors in their coordination can mean complete loss of flight control. Not surprisingly therefore, flight-related mechanisms offer us among the most compelling examples of evolutionary adaptations in our natural world. How do insects cope with the challenges posed by miniaturization to their flight system? We have addressed this question from any different perspectives ranging from aerodynamics and biomechanics to sensory neurobiology. In my seminar, I will present our recent findings, specifically focusing on the role of biomechanics in flight. Specifically, I will discuss our findings on the control of wings and mechanosensory structures called halteres (which evolved from hindwings) in flies (Diptera), as well as other flight-related adaptations.