Video S3. from Exploring the attachment of the Mediterranean medicinal leech (Hirudo verbana) to porous substrates
2020-07-06T14:33:02Z (GMT) by
Haematophagous ectoparasites must ensure a reliable hold to their host during blood meals and, therefore, have evolved a broad spectrum of versatile and effective attachment mechanisms. The Mediterranean medicinal leech (Hirudo verbana), for example, uses suction on both smooth and textured air-tight substrates. However, preliminary studies showed that H. verbana is also capable of attaching itself to air-permeable substrates, where suction does not work. Using high-speed videography and mechanical tests, we comparatively investigated the attachment of H. verbana on both smooth and textured air-tight as well as on porous artificial substrates, also considering the influence of mucus on sucker surfaces. In general, the leech-specific locomotion cycle did not differ between the tested surfaces, and the leeches were able to reliably attach to both air-tight and porous substrates. From our results, we conclude that suction is presumably the primary attachment mechanism of H. verbana. However, secondary mechanisms such as mechanical interlocking with surface asperities and pores or capillary forces occurring at the interface between the mucus-covered suckers and the substratum are also employed. In any case, the rich repertoire of applicable attachment principles renders the organs of H. verbana functionally highly resilient.