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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Buprestidae (Metallic Wood-Boring Beetles)
These beetles are small- to medium-sized with a hard carapace. They are rather flat, long, and oval-shaped. The wing-covers are often bumpy or conspicuously ridged, brown or black, with an iridescent sheen. The eyes are rather large for a beetle. Adults occasionally visit flowers for pollen, while the larvae bore through the wood of various trees and shrubs, creating flattened tunnels.

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Ecology

Associations

Animal / parasitoid / endoparasitoid
larva of Orussus abietinus is endoparasitoid of larva of Buprestidae

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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Cuticle is hard and stiff: jewel beetle
 

Cuticle on the jaws of the jewel beetle larva is equivalent in hardness and stiffness to stainless steel through structural and biochemical pathways.

     
  "The arthropod cuticle is a remarkable and versatile biological material commonly composed of chitin and proteins. Lessons can be learned from the way it is adapted to fit its functions. The larval jewel beetle, Pseudotaenia frenchi, demonstrates hardness in the cutting edge of the mandibles in excess of the mineralized carapace of stone crabs and compares favourably with some stainless steels. Yet this is a form of cuticle which is devoid of transition metals or mineralization. In seeming contradiction, the similarly dark coloured adult beetle mandibles contain the transition metal manganese, but are significantly softer. Energy dispersive X-ray analysis and infrared spectroscopy have been used to investigate the differences in composition of mandible cuticle of the adult and larval beetles…This study raises questions regarding the current understanding of the function of transition metals in cuticle. It also demonstrates that chitin-based biological materials devoid of biomineralization or metal incorporation can achieve better performance than previously documented." (Cribb et al. 2010:3152)

"The larval mandibular cuticle, measured either wet or dry, is harder than many other biological materials noted for their mechanical properties, including the mineralized stone crab carapace. It is also equivalent to the maximal hardness measured for a range of stainless steels. This larval material holds out promise that by analysing its hierarchical structure and chemistry further we can determine how such a biopolymer can reach previously unrecognized levels of performance." (Cribb et al. 2010:3156)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Cribb B W; Lin C -L; Rintoul L; Rasch R; Hasenpusch J; Huang H. 2010. Hardness in arthropod exoskeletons in the absence of transition metals. Acta Biomaterialia. 6: 3152–3156.
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Functional adaptation

Sensilla detect fire: beetle
 

Sensilla in the infrared sensory organ of the Melanophila acuminata beetle detect fire by a structure of lipids channeling photons to a protein region highly sensitive to hydrogen resonance.

   
  "The Melanophila acuminata beetle is attracted to forest fires via a pair of infrared sensory organs composed of sensilla...Mathematical calculations showed that the physical properties of the sensilla are such that the expected temperature rise is insufficient for transduction of the infrared signal through mechanical means or as a thermal receptor as previously thought; hence the protein plays the pivotal role in perception of single photons and transmission of the signal within the sensilla." (Israelowitz et al. 2011:129)

"The Melanophila acuminata sensilla are composed of lipids that may channel the photons to the protein region. Similar to high order polymers like dendrimers, which are nanometer-sized macromolecules with regular units, the lipids form regular layers with a thickness of 100 nm. The lipid layers insulate the scattering of collisional energy and direct the energy towards the IR-absorbing tulip-shaped protein region. Protein hydrogen bonds vibrate in response to infrared radiation at wavelengths around 3 µm and at wavelengths between 10 µm  and 25 µm. This stretch resonance corresponds at 3 µm with the data for maximal IR absorption as well as with behavioral and sensory response of the Melanophila acuminata. The presence of this protein provides an explanation for high sensitivity and the specificity of the beetle towards the narrow infrared windows likely via a photo-effect since protein, by consequence of hydrogen resonance, absorbs in the infrared wavelength." (Israelowitz et al. 2011:136)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Israelowitz M; Kwon JA; Rizvi SWH; Gille C; von Schroeder HP. 2011. Mechanism of infrared detection and transduction by beetle Melanophila acuminata. Journal of Bionic Engineering. 8: 129–139.
  • Klocke D; Schmitz A; Soltner H; Bousack H; Schmitz H. 2011. Infrared receptors in pyrophilous ("fire-loving“) insects as model for new uncooled infrared sensors. 2: 186-197.
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Functional adaptation

Body surfaces reflect light to create colors: jewel beetles
 

The body surfaces of jewel beetles and other beetles create colors by reflecting lights at different wavelengths.

     
  "The Buprestid beetlesas well as many ground-beetles (Carabidae), are different again in that the body surface producing the colour is hardened and quite permanent and sculptured into subtly varying shapes that reflect light at different wavelengths - blue, purple, green, bronze, silver and gold. The purple flush on the elytra of the ground-beetle, Carabus violaceus, is due to this cause, as are the metallic marks on various butterfly pupae." (Wootton 1984:140)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Wootton, A. 1984. Insects of the World. Blandford. 224 p.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:4,148Public Records:171
Specimens with Sequences:2,707Public Species:30
Specimens with Barcodes:2,207Public BINs:31
Species:719         
Species With Barcodes:478         
          
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Barcode data

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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Buprestidae

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Wikipedia

Buprestidae

Buprestidae is a family of beetles, known as jewel beetles or metallic wood-boring beetles because of their glossy iridescent colors. The family is among the largest of the beetles, with some 15,000 species known in 450 genera. In addition, almost 100 fossil species have been described.[1]

The larger and more spectacularly colored jewel beetles are highly prized by insect collectors. The elytra of some Buprestidae species have been traditionally used in beetlewing jewellery and decoration in certain countries in Asia, like India, Thailand and Japan.

Description and ecology[edit]

Shape is generally cylindrical or elongate to ovoid, with lengths ranging from 3 to 80 mm (0.12 to 3.1 in), although most species are under 20 mm (0.79 in). Catoxantha, Chrysaspis, Euchroma and Megaloxantha contain the largest species. a variety of bright colors are known, often in complicated patterns. The iridescence common to these beetles is not due to pigments in the exoskeleton, but instead physical iridescence in which microscopic texture in their cuticle selectively reflects specific frequencies of light in particular directions. This is the same effect that makes a compact disc reflect multiple colors.

The larvae bore through roots, logs, stems, and leaves of various types of plants, ranging from trees to grasses. The wood boring types generally favor dying or dead branches on otherwise-healthy trees, while a few types attack green wood; some of these are serious pests capable of killing trees and causing major economic damage. Some species are attracted to recently burned forests to lay their eggs. They can sense pine wood smoke from up to 50 miles away, and can see infrared light, helping them to zero in as they get closer to a forest fire[citation needed].

Systematics[edit]

Jewel beetle classification is not yet robustly established, although there appear to be five or six main lineages, which may be considered subfamilies, possibly with one or two being raised to families in their own right. Some other systems define up to 14 subfamilies.

The commonly accepted subfamilies, with some representative genera, are:


Agrilinae – cosmopolitan, with most taxa occurring in the Northern Hemisphere

Buprestinae – cosmopolitan

Chrysochroinae

Galbellinae

Julodinae

Polycestinae

References[edit]

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