DOI: 10.1002/adfm.202215162 ISSN:

Resilin in Insect Flight Systems

Esther Appel, Jan Michels, Stanislav N. Gorb
  • Electrochemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Biomaterials
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials


Compared to wingless insects, pterygote insects profit from numerous wing‐related benefits including a wider distribution range, the exploitation of various food resources and the escape from water‐ or land‐confined predators. In order to maintain the wings´ functionality, the wing design and resistance to material fatigue are of key importance. This is even more essential for survival when considering that wings are used for millions of wing beat cycles but cannot be repaired and do not contain inner muscles so that their aerodynamic performance is mainly based on passive, structure‐based wing deformations. One of the components serving this purpose is the endowment of certain wing components with the elastomeric protein resilin building stable and complex material composites with the tanned cuticle. Resilin endows the respective structures with, e.g., higher flexibility and compliance and enables elastic energy storage. In this study, the occurrence of resilin in the insect flight system is reviewed based on previous studies of several insect orders including Odonata, Orthoptera, Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, Dermaptera, and Diptera, and the function of resilin is discussed with reference to the respective structures.

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