New paper in Arthropod Structure & Development


The tracheal system of scutigeromorph centipedes and the evolution of respiratory systems of myriapods

Hilken G, Rosenberg J, Edgecombe GD, Blüml V, Hammel JU, Hasenberg A & Sombke A.
Arthropod Structure & Development, Volume 60, 2021, 101006, ISSN 1467-8039. Published online 24 November 2020.


The tracheal system of scutigeromorph centipedes (Chilopoda) is special, as it consists of dorsally arranged unpaired spiracles. In this study, we investigate the tracheal systems of five different scutigeromorph species. They are strikingly similar to each other but depict unique characters compared to the tracheal systems of pleurostigmophoran centipedes, which has engendered an ongoing debate over a single versus independent origin of tracheal systems in Chilopoda. Up to now, only the respiratory system of Scutigera coleoptrata was investigated intensively using LM-, TEM-, and SEM-techniques. We supplement this with data for species from all three families of Scutigeromorpha. These reveal interspecific differences in atrial width and the shape and branching pattern of the tracheal tubules. Further, we investigated the tracheal system of Scutigera coleoptrata with three additional techniques: light sheet microscopy, microCT and synchrotron radiation based microCT analysis. This set of techniques allows a comparison between fresh versus fixed and dried material. The question of a unique vs. multiple origin of tracheal systems in centipedes and in Myriapoda as a whole is discussed with regard to their structural similarities and differences and the presence of hemocyanin as an oxygen carrier. We used morphological and molecular data and the fossil record to evaluate the alternative hypotheses.