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Elemental composition and material properties of radular teeth in the heterobranch snail Gastropteron rubrum (Mollusca, Gastropoda) foraging on hard organisms
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  • Wencke Krings,
  • Charlotte Neumann,
  • Stanislav Gorb,
  • Alexander Koehnsen,
  • Heike Wägele
Wencke Krings
Universität Hamburg

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Charlotte Neumann
Universität Hamburg
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Stanislav Gorb
Kiel University
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Alexander Koehnsen
Universität Hamburg
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Heike Wägele
Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change
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The molluscan feeding structure is the radula, a chitinous membrane with teeth, which are highly adapted to the food and the substrate. In Polyplacophora and Patellogastropoda, the handling of hard ingesta can be facilitated by high content of chemical compounds containing Fe or Si in the tooth cusps. Other taxa, however, possess teeth that are less mineralized, even though animals have to avoid structural failure or high wear during feeding as well. Here, we investigated the gastropod Gastropteron rubrum, feeding on hard Foraminifera, diatoms and Porifera. Tooth morphologies and wear were documented by scanning electron microscopy and their mechanical properties were tested by nanoindentation. We determined, that gradients of hard- and stiffness run along each tooth, decreasing from cusp to basis. We also found, that inner lateral teeth are harder and stiffer than the outer ones. These findings allowed us to propose hypotheses about the radula-ingesta interaction. In search for the origins of the gradients, teeth were visualized using confocal laser scanning microscopy, to determine the degree of tanning, and analyzed with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, to test the elemental composition. We found that the mechanical gradients probably have their origin in the degree of tanning, as the teeth did not contain high proportions of metals or other minerals. However, in the tooth surfaces, which interact with the ingesta, high Si and Ca content was determined, which is likely an adaptation to reduce wear.
02 May 2023Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
03 May 2023Submission Checks Completed
03 May 2023Assigned to Editor
08 May 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
19 May 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
29 May 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
19 Jun 20231st Revision Received
20 Jun 2023Submission Checks Completed
20 Jun 2023Assigned to Editor
20 Jun 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
05 Jul 2023Editorial Decision: Accept