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1.  Biomimetics inspired surfaces for drag reduction and oleophobicity/philicity 
Summary
The emerging field of biomimetics allows one to mimic biology or nature to develop nanomaterials, nanodevices, and processes which provide desirable properties. Hierarchical structures with dimensions of features ranging from the macroscale to the nanoscale are extremely common in nature and possess properties of interest. There are a large number of objects including bacteria, plants, land and aquatic animals, and seashells with properties of commercial interest. Certain plant leaves, such as lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) leaves, are known to be superhydrophobic and self-cleaning due to the hierarchical surface roughness and presence of a wax layer. In addition to a self-cleaning effect, these surfaces with a high contact angle and low contact angle hysteresis also exhibit low adhesion and drag reduction for fluid flow. An aquatic animal, such as a shark, is another model from nature for the reduction of drag in fluid flow. The artificial surfaces inspired from the shark skin and lotus leaf have been created, and in this article the influence of structure on drag reduction efficiency is reviewed. Biomimetic-inspired oleophobic surfaces can be used to prevent contamination of the underwater parts of ships by biological and organic contaminants, including oil. The article also reviews the wetting behavior of oil droplets on various superoleophobic surfaces created in the lab.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.9
PMCID: PMC3148050  PMID: 21977417
aquatic animals; biomimetics; drag; lotus plants; shark skin; superhydrophobicity; superoleophobicity
2.  Robust adhesion of flower-like few-layer graphene nanoclusters 
Scientific Reports  2012;2:511.
Nanostructured surface possessing ultrahigh adhesion like “gecko foot” or “rose petal” can offer more opportunities for bionic application. We grow flower-like few-layer graphene on silicon nanocone arrays to form graphene nanoclusters, showing robust adhesion. Their contact angle (CA) is 164° with a hysteresis CA of 155° and adhesive force for a 5 μL water droplet is about 254 μN that is far larger than present reported results. We bring experimental evidences that this great adhesion depends on large-area plentiful edges of graphene nanosheets tuned by conical nanostructure and intrinsic wetting features of graphene. Such new hierarchical few-layer graphene nanostructure provides a feasible strategy to understand the ultra-adhesive mechanism of the “gecko effect” or “rose effect” and enhance the wettability of graphene for many practical applications.
doi:10.1038/srep00511
PMCID: PMC3397321  PMID: 22803004
3.  Superhydrophobicity in perfection: the outstanding properties of the lotus leaf 
Summary
Lotus leaves have become an icon for superhydrophobicity and self-cleaning surfaces, and have led to the concept of the ‘Lotus effect’. Although many other plants have superhydrophobic surfaces with almost similar contact angles, the lotus shows better stability and perfection of its water repellency. Here, we compare the relevant properties such as the micro- and nano-structure, the chemical composition of the waxes and the mechanical properties of lotus with its competitors. It soon becomes obvious that the upper epidermis of the lotus leaf has developed some unrivaled optimizations. The extraordinary shape and the density of the papillae are the basis for the extremely reduced contact area between surface and water drops. The exceptional dense layer of very small epicuticular wax tubules is a result of their unique chemical composition. The mechanical robustness of the papillae and the wax tubules reduce damage and are the basis for the perfection and durability of the water repellency. A reason for the optimization, particularly of the upper side of the lotus leaf, can be deduced from the fact that the stomata are located in the upper epidermis. Here, the impact of rain and contamination is higher than on the lower epidermis. The lotus plant has successfully developed an excellent protection for this delicate epistomatic surface of its leaves.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.19
PMCID: PMC3148040  PMID: 21977427
epicuticular wax; leaf surface; Lotus effect; papillae; water repellency
4.  Non-Contaminating Camouflage: Multifunctional Skin Microornamentation in the West African Gaboon Viper (Bitis rhinoceros) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91087.
The West African Gaboon viper (Bitis rhinoceros) has an extraordinary coloration of pale brown and velvety black markings. The velvety black appearance is caused by a unique hierarchical surface structures which was not found on the pale brown scales. In the present study we examined the wettability of the vipeŕs scales by measuring contact angles of water droplets. Velvet black scale surfaces had high static contact angles beyond 160° and low roll-off angles below 20° indicating an outstanding superhydrophobicity. Our calculations showed that the Cassie-Baxter model describes well wettability effects for these surfaces. Self-cleaning capabilities were determined by contaminating the scales with particles and fogging them until droplets formed. Black scales were clean after fogging, while pale scales stayed contaminated. Black scales feature multifunctional structures providing not only water-repellent but also self-cleaning properties. The pattern of nanoridges can be used as a model for surface-active technical surfaces.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091087
PMCID: PMC3944882  PMID: 24599379
5.  Stable superhydrophobic surface of hierarchical carbon nanotubes on Si micropillar arrays 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2013;8(1):412.
It is of great importance to construct a stable superhydrophobic surface with low sliding angle (SA) for various applications. We used hydrophobic carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to construct the superhydrophobic hierarchical architecture of CNTs on silicon micropillar array (CNTs/Si-μp), which have a large contact angle of 153° to 155° and an ultralow SA of 3° to 5°. Small water droplets with a volume larger than 0.3 μL can slide on the CNTs/Si-μp with a tilted angle of approximately 5°. The CNTs growing on planar Si wafer lose their superhydrophobic properties after exposing to tiny water droplets. However, the CNTs/Si-μp still show superhydrophobic properties even after wetting using tiny water droplets. The CNTs/Si-μp still have a hierarchical structure after wetting, resulting in a stable superhydrophobic surface.
doi:10.1186/1556-276X-8-412
PMCID: PMC3874759  PMID: 24098965
Carbon nanotube; Hierarchical architecture; Superhydrophobic surface
6.  Flower thermoregulation facilitates fertilization in Asian sacred lotus 
Annals of Botany  2009;103(7):1159-1163.
Background and Aims
The thermoregulatory flower of the Asian sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) can maintain a relatively stable temperature despite great variations in ambient temperature during anthesis. The thermoregulation has been hypothesized to offer a direct energy reward for pollinators in lotus flowers. This study aims to examine whether the stable temperature maintained in the floral chamber influences the fertilization process and seed development.
Methods
An artificial refrigeration instrument was employed to cool flowers during the fertilization process and post-fertilization period in an experimental population. The effect of temperature on post-pollination events was also examined by removing petals in two field populations.
Key Results
Treatments with low floral temperature did not reduce stigma receptivity or pollen viability in undehisced anthers. Low temperature during the fertilization period significantly decreased seed set per flower but low temperature during the phase of seed development had no effect, suggesting that temperature regulation by lotus flowers facilitated fertilization success. Hand-pollination treatments in two field populations indicated that seed set of flowers with petals removed was lower than that of intact flowers in north China, where ambient temperatures are low, but not in south China, confirming that reducing the temperature of carpels did influence post-pollination events.
Conclusions
The experiments suggest that floral thermoregulation in lotus could enhance female reproductive success by facilitating fertilization.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcp051
PMCID: PMC2707905  PMID: 19282320
Nelumbo nucifera; Asian sacred lotus; beetle-pollination syndrome; fertilization process; post-pollination events; pollen viability; stigma receptivity; thermoregulation
7.  Wettability Switching Techniques on Superhydrophobic Surfaces 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2007;2(12):577-596.
The wetting properties of superhydrophobic surfaces have generated worldwide research interest. A water drop on these surfaces forms a nearly perfect spherical pearl. Superhydrophobic materials hold considerable promise for potential applications ranging from self cleaning surfaces, completely water impermeable textiles to low cost energy displacement of liquids in lab-on-chip devices. However, the dynamic modification of the liquid droplets behavior and in particular of their wetting properties on these surfaces is still a challenging issue. In this review, after a brief overview on superhydrophobic states definition, the techniques leading to the modification of wettability behavior on superhydrophobic surfaces under specific conditions: optical, magnetic, mechanical, chemical, thermal are discussed. Finally, a focus on electrowetting is made from historical phenomenon pointed out some decades ago on classical planar hydrophobic surfaces to recent breakthrough obtained on superhydrophobic surfaces.
doi:10.1007/s11671-007-9102-4
PMCID: PMC3246619
Microfluidic; Superhydrophobic surfaces; Wettability switching; Electrowetting
8.  Surface Structure and Wetting Characteristics of Collembola Cuticles 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e86783.
The cuticles of the arthropods Collembola (springtails) are known to be superhydrophobic, displaying such properties as water-repellence and plastron formation; overhanging surface structures have been suggested as the source of these properties. Superhydrophobicity is closely related to surface structuring and other surfaces with overhanging structures have been shown to possess robust superhydrophobic properties. In effort to correlate the wetting performance and surface structuring of the cuticles, from both a technical and evolutionary point of view, we investigated a selection of Collembola species including species from several families and covering habitats ranging from aquatic to very dry. The observed contact angles of wetting was in general larger than those predicted by the conventional models. Not all the studied Collembola were found to have superhydrophobic properties, indicating that superhydrophobicity is common, but not a universal trait in Collembola. Overhanging structures were found in some, but not all Collembola species with superhydrophobic cuticles; which leads to the conclusion that there is no direct link between overhanging surface structures and superhydrophobicity in Collembola.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086783
PMCID: PMC3911920  PMID: 24498281
9.  Intracellular energy depletion triggers programmed cell death during petal senescence in tulip 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2008;59(8):2085-2095.
Programmed cell death (PCD) in petals provides a model system to study the molecular aspects of organ senescence. In this study, the very early triggering signal for PCD during the senescence process from young green buds to 14-d-old petals of Tulipa gesneriana was determined. The opening and closing movement of petals of intact plants increased for the first 3 d and then gradually decreased. DNA degradation and cytochrome c (Cyt c) release were clearly observed in 6-d-old flowers. Oxidative stress or ethylene production can be excluded as the early signal for petal PCD. In contrast, ATP was dramatically depleted after the first day of flower opening. Sucrose supplementation to cut flowers maintained their ATP levels and the movement ability for a longer time than in those kept in water. The onset of DNA degradation, Cyt c release, and petal senescence was also delayed by sucrose supplementation to cut flowers. These results suggest that intracellular energy depletion, rather than oxidative stress or ethylene production, may be the very early signal to trigger PCD in tulip petals.
doi:10.1093/jxb/ern066
PMCID: PMC2413268  PMID: 18515833
ATP; DNA degradation; intracellular energy depletion; programmed cell death; senescence; tulip petal
10.  Determining the Contribution of Epidermal Cell Shape to Petal Wettability Using Isogenic Antirrhinum Lines 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17576.
The petal epidermis acts not only as a barrier to the outside world but also as a point of interaction between the flower and potential pollinators. The presence of conical petal epidermal cells has previously been shown to influence the attractiveness of the flower to pollinating insects. Using Antirrhinum isogenic lines differing only in the presence of a single epidermal structure, conical cells, we were able to investigate how the structure of the epidermis influences petal wettability by measuring the surface contact angle of water drops. Conical cells have a significant impact on how water is retained on the flower surface, which may have indirect consequences for pollinator behaviour. We discuss how the petal epidermis is a highly multifunctional one and how a battery of methods, including the use of isogenic lines, is required to untangle the impacts of specific epidermal properties in an ecological context.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017576
PMCID: PMC3053357  PMID: 21423738
11.  Micro to nano: Surface size scale and superhydrophobicity 
Summary
This work looks at the fundamental question of how the surface mobility of drops in the composite state is related to the size scale of the roughness features of the surface. To this end, relevant literature is first reviewed and the important terms are clarified. We then describe and discuss contact and roll-off angle measurements on a set of hydrophobicized silicon post surfaces for which all parameters except for the surface size scale were held constant. It was found that a critical transition from “sticky superhydrophobic” (composite state with large contact angle hysteresis) to “truly superhydrophobic” (composite state with low hysteresis) takes place as the size of the surface features reaches 1 μm.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.38
PMCID: PMC3148034  PMID: 21977446
contact angle; hysteresis; superhydrophobic; wetting
12.  Carotenoid composition and carotenogenic gene expression during Ipomoea petal development 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2009;61(3):709-719.
Japanese morning glory (Ipomoea nil) is a representative plant lacking a yellow-flowered cultivar, although a few wild Ipomoea species contain carotenoids in their petals such as Ipomoea sp. (yellow petals) and I. obscura (pale-yellow petals). In the present study, carotenoid composition and the expression patterns of carotenogenic genes during petal development were compared among I. nil, I. obscura, and Ipomoea sp. to identify the factors regulating carotenoid accumulation in Ipomoea plant petals. In the early stage, the carotenoid composition in petals of all the Ipomoea plants tested was the same as in the leaves mainly showing lutein, violaxanthin, and β-carotene (chloroplast-type carotenoids). However, in fully opened flowers, chloroplast-type carotenoids were entirely absent in I. nil, whereas they were present in trace amounts in the free form in I. obscura. At the late stage of petal development in Ipomoea sp., the majority of carotenoids were β-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and β-carotene (chromoplast-type carotenoids). In addition, most of them were present in the esterified form. Carotenogenic gene expression was notably lower in I. nil than in Ipomoea sp. In particular, β-ring hydroxylase (CHYB) was considerably suppressed in petals of both I. nil and I. obscura. The CHYB expression was found to be significantly high in the petals of Ipomoea sp. during the synthesis of chromoplast-type carotenoids. The expression levels of carotenoid cleavage genes (CCD1 and CCD4) were not correlated with the amount of carotenoids in petals. These results suggest that both I. obscura and I. nil lack the ability to synthesize chromoplast-type carotenoids because of the transcriptional down-regulation of carotenogenic genes. CHYB, an enzyme that catalyses the addition of a hydroxyl residue required for esterification, was found to be a key enzyme for the accumulation of chromoplast-type carotenoids in petals.
doi:10.1093/jxb/erp335
PMCID: PMC2814104  PMID: 19933319
β-ring hydroxylase; carotenoid; esterification; gene expression; Ipomoea; petal colour
13.  Antiobesity and hypolipidemic effects of lotus leaf hot water extract with taurine supplementation in rats fed a high fat diet 
Journal of Biomedical Science  2010;17(Suppl 1):S42.
Background
Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) leaf has been used to treat obesity. The purpose of this study was to investigate the antiobesity and hypolipidemic effects of lotus leaf hot water extract with taurine supplementation in high fat diet-induced obese rats.
Methods
Four week-old male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into four groups with 8 rats in each group for a period of 6 weeks (normal diet, N group; high fat diet, HF group; high fat diet + lotus leaf hot water extract, HFL group; high fat diet + lotus leaf hot water extract + taurine, HFLT group). Lotus leaf hot water extract was orally administrated to HFL and HFLT groups and the same amount of distilled water was orally administered (400 mg/kg/day) to N and HF groups. Taurine was supplemented by dissolving in feed water (3% w/v).
Results
The body weight gain and relative weights of epididymal and retroperitoneal adipose tissues were significantly lower in N, HFL and HFLT groups compared to HF group. HFL and HFLT groups showed lower concentrations of total cholesterol, triglyceride and low density lipoprotein cholesterol in serum. HFLT group showed higher the ratio of high density lipoprotein cholesterol/total cholesterol compared to HFL group. HFLT group showed better blood lipid profiles compared to HFL group.
Conclusions
Lotus leaf hot water extract with taurine supplementation showed antiobesity and hypolipidemic effects in high fat diet-induced obese rats, which was more effective than lotus leaf hot water extract alone.
doi:10.1186/1423-0127-17-S1-S42
PMCID: PMC2994410  PMID: 20804619
14.  Superhydrophobic nature of nanostructures on an indigenous Australian eucalyptus plant and its potential application 
In this preliminary study, the morphology and nanostructured features formed by the epicuticular waxes of the mottlecah (Eucalyptus macrocarpa) leaf were investigated and quantified. The surface features formed by the waxes give the leaf remarkable wetting and self-cleaning properties that enhance the plant’s survival in an arid climate. This paper also provides experimental evidence of the self-assembly properties of the epicuticular waxes. Analysis of the water contact angle measurements gave a mean static contact angle of 162.00 ± 6.10 degrees, which clearly indicated that the mottlecah’s leaf surface was superhydrophobic. Detailed field emission scanning electron microscopy examination revealed that the surface was covered by bumps approximately 20 μm in diameter and regularly spaced at a distance of around 26 μm. The bumps are capped by nanotubules/pillars with an average diameter of 280 nm at the tips. Self-cleaning experiments indicated that the mottlecah’s leaf could be effectively cleaned by a fine spray of water droplets that rolled over the surface picking up contaminants. Field emission scanning electron microscopy investigation of extracted epicuticular waxes revealed that the waxes were capable of self-reassembly and formed features similar to those of the original leaf surface. Furthermore, also reported is a simple technique for surface treating one side of a planar surface to produce a superhydrophobic surface that can be used as a planar floatation platform for microdevices.
doi:10.2147/NSA.S24834
PMCID: PMC3781715  PMID: 24198490
superhydrophobic; nanopillars; epicuticular waxes; self-cleaning; floatation; micro-fluidic
15.  Tinkering with the C-Function: A Molecular Frame for the Selection of Double Flowers in Cultivated Roses 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9288.
Background
Roses have been cultivated for centuries and a number of varieties have been selected based on flower traits such as petal form, color, and number. Wild-type roses have five petals (simple flowers), whereas high numbers of petals (double flowers) are typical attributes of most of the cultivated roses. Here, we investigated the molecular mechanisms that could have been selected to control petal number in roses.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We have analyzed the expression of several candidate genes known to be involved in floral organ identity determination in roses from similar genetic backgrounds but exhibiting contrasting petal numbers per flower. We show that the rose ortholog of AGAMOUS (RhAG) is differentially expressed in double flowers as compared to simple flowers. In situ hybridization experiments confirm the differential expression of RhAG and demonstrate that in the double-flower roses, the expression domain of RhAG is restricted toward the center of the flower. Conversely, in simple-flower roses, RhAG expression domain is wider. We further show that the border of RhAG expression domain is labile, which allows the selection of rose flowers with increased petal number. Double-flower roses were selected independently in the two major regions for domestication, China and the peri-Mediterranean areas. Comparison of RhAG expression in the wild-type ancestors of cultivated roses and their descendants both in the European and Chinese lineages corroborates the correlation between the degree of restriction of RhAG expression domain and the number of petals. Our data suggests that a restriction of RhAG expression domain is the basis for selection of double flowers in both the Chinese and peri-Mediterranean centers of domestication.
Conclusions/Significance
We demonstrate that a shift in RhAG expression domain boundary occurred in rose hybrids, causing double-flower phenotype. This molecular event was selected independently during rose domestication in Europe/Middle East and in China.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009288
PMCID: PMC2823793  PMID: 20174587
16.  Peace, a MYB-like transcription factor, regulates petal pigmentation in flowering peach ‘Genpei’ bearing variegated and fully pigmented flowers 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(4):1081-1094.
Summary
Peace expression determined flower colouration whether pigmented or variegated. In spite of the close relationship between Peace and AtMYB123, a proanthocyanidin regulator, Peace regulates anthocyanin biosynthesis in flowering peach.
Flowering peach Prunus persica cv. Genpei bears pink and variegated flowers on a single tree. The structural genes involved in anthocyanin biosynthesis were expressed strongly in pink petals but only very weakly or not at all in variegated petals. A cDNA clone encoding a MYB-like gene, isolated from pink petals was strongly expressed only in pink petals. Introduction of this gene, via biolistics gave magenta spots in the white areas of variegated petals, therefore this gene was named as Peace (peach anthocyanin colour enhancement). Differences in Peace expression determine the pattern of flower colouration in flowering peach. The R2R3 DNA-binding domain of Peace is similar to those of other plant MYBs regulating anthocyanin biosynthesis. Key amino acids for tertiary structure and the motif for interaction with bHLH proteins were conserved in Peace. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that Peace is closely related to AtMYB123 (TT2), which regulates proanthocyanidin biosynthesis in Arabidopsis, and to anthocyanin regulators in monocots rather than to regulators in dicots. This is the first report that a TT2-like R2R3 MYB has been shown to regulate anthocyanin biosynthesis.
doi:10.1093/jxb/ert456
PMCID: PMC3935565  PMID: 24453228
Anthocyanin; flowering peach; MYB-like transcription factor; Peace; Prunus persica; variegation.
17.  Impact of cell shape in hierarchically structured plant surfaces on the attachment of male Colorado potato beetles (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) 
Summary
Plant surfaces showing hierarchical structuring are frequently found in plant organs such as leaves, petals, fruits and stems. In our study we focus on the level of cell shape and on the level of superimposed microstructuring, leading to hierarchical surfaces if both levels are present. While it has been shown that epicuticular wax crystals and cuticular folds strongly reduce insect attachment, and that smooth papillate epidermal cells in petals improve the grip of pollinators, the impact of hierarchical surface structuring of plant surfaces possessing convex or papillate cells on insect attachment remains unclear. We performed traction experiments with male Colorado potato beetles on nine different plant surfaces with different structures. The selected plant surfaces showed epidermal cells with either tabular, convex or papillate cell shape, covered either with flat films of wax, epicuticular wax crystals or with cuticular folds. On surfaces possessing either superimposed wax crystals or cuticular folds we found traction forces to be almost one order of magnitude lower than on surfaces covered only with flat films of wax. Independent of superimposed microstructures we found that convex and papillate epidermal cell shapes slightly enhance the attachment ability of the beetles. Thus, in plant surfaces, cell shape and superimposed microstructuring yield contrary effects on the attachment of the Colorado potato beetle, with convex or papillate cells enhancing attachment and both wax crystals or cuticular folds reducing attachment. However, the overall magnitude of traction force mainly depends on the presence or absence of superimposed microstructuring.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.3.7
PMCID: PMC3304315  PMID: 22428097
cuticular folds; epicuticular wax crystals; insect–plant interaction; papillae; structure–function relationship
18.  Effect of Nelumbo nucifera Petal Extracts on Lipase, Adipogenesis, Adipolysis, and Central Receptors of Obesity 
N. nucifera is one among the important medicinal plants assessed for its antiobesity action in various preclinical models. The present study was aimed at investigating the antiobesity effect of methanol and successive water extracts of petals of N. nucifera by studying its effect on adipogenesis, adipolysis, lipase, serotonin (5-HT2C), cannabinoid (CNR2), melanocyte concentrating hormone (MCHR1), and melanocortin (MC4R) receptors. Both methanol and successive water extracts of N. nucifera petals had an effect on inhibition of lipid storage in adipocytes and on increasing lipolysis. N. nucifera petal methanol extract exhibited the concentration-dependent inhibitory effect on lipase activity with an IC50 value of 47 µg/mL. N. nucifera petal extracts showed evident agonist and antagonist activity towards 5-HT2C and CNR2 receptors, respectively, while it showed no effect towards MCHR1 and MC4R receptors. Overall, methanol extract of N. nucifera petals showed better activity than successive water extract.
doi:10.1155/2013/145925
PMCID: PMC3848046  PMID: 24348689
19.  Synchrony between flower opening and petal-color change from red to blue in morning glory, Ipomoea tricolor cv. Heavenly Blue 
Petal color change in morning glory Ipomoea tricolor cv. Heavenly Blue, from red to blue, during the flower-opening period is due to an unusual increase in vacuolar pH (pHv) from 6.6 to 7.7 in colored epidermal cells. We clarified that this pHv increase is involved in tonoplast-localized Na+/H+ exchanger (NHX). However, the mechanism of pHv increase and the physiological role of NHX1 in petal cells have remained obscure. In this study, synchrony of petal-color change from red to blue, pHv increase, K+ accumulation, and cell expansion growth during flower-opening period were examined with special reference to ItNHX1. We concluded that ItNHX1 exchanges K+, but not Na+, with H+ to accumulate an ionic osmoticum in the vacuole, which is then followed by cell expansion growth. This function may lead to full opening of petals with a characteristic blue color.
doi:10.2183/pjab.85.187
PMCID: PMC3559195  PMID: 19521056
ItNHX1; Ipomoea tricolor cv. Heavenly Blue; vacuolar pH increase; K+/H+ exchange; cell expansion growth; flower opening
20.  Why do so many petals have conical epidermal cells? 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(4):609-616.
Background
The conical epidermal cells found on the petals of most Angiosperm species are so widespread that they have been used as markers of petal identity, but their function has only been analysed in recent years. This review brings together diverse data on the role of these cells in pollination biology.
Scope
The published effects of conical cells on petal colour, petal reflexing, scent production, petal wettability and pollinator grip on the flower surface are considered. Of these factors, pollinator grip has been shown to be of most significance in the well-studied Antirrhinum majus/bumble-bee system. Published data on the relationship between epidermal cell morphology and floral temperature were limited, so an analysis of the effects of cell shape on floral temperature in Antirrhinum is presented here. Statistically significant warming by conical cells was not detected, although insignificant trends towards faster warming at dawn were found, and it was also found that flat-celled flowers could be warmer on warm days. The warming observed is less significant than that achieved by varying pigment content. However, the possibility that the effect of conical cells on temperature might be biologically significant in certain specific instances such as marginal habitats or weather conditions cannot be ruled out.
Conclusions
Conical epidermal cells can influence a diverse set of petal properties. The fitness benefits they provide to plants are likely to vary with pollinator and habitat, and models are now required to understand how these different factors interact.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcr065
PMCID: PMC3170151  PMID: 21470973
Antirrhinum majus; conical cell; epidermis; floral scent; floral temperature; flower colour; grip; petal; pollination; wettability
21.  Cutting a Drop of Water Pinned by Wire Loops Using a Superhydrophobic Surface and Knife 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45893.
A water drop on a superhydrophobic surface that is pinned by wire loops can be reproducibly cut without formation of satellite droplets. Drops placed on low-density polyethylene surfaces and Teflon-coated glass slides were cut with superhydrophobic knives of low-density polyethylene and treated copper or zinc sheets, respectively. Distortion of drop shape by the superhydrophobic knife enables a clean break. The driving force for droplet formation arises from the lower surface free energy for two separate drops, and it is modeled as a 2-D system. An estimate of the free energy change serves to guide when droplets will form based on the variation of drop volume, loop spacing and knife depth. Combining the cutting process with an electrofocusing driving force could enable a reproducible biomolecular separation without troubling satellite drop formation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045893
PMCID: PMC3454355  PMID: 23029297
22.  Effective pollinators of Asian sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera): contemporary pollinators may not reflect the historical pollination syndrome 
Annals of Botany  2009;104(5):845-851.
Background and Aims
If stabilizing selection by pollinators is a prerequisite for pollinator-mediated floral evolution, spatiotemporal variation in the pollinator assemblage may confuse the plant–pollinator interaction in a given species. Here, effective pollinators in a living fossil plant Nelumbo nucifera (Nelumbonaceae) were examined to test whether beetles are major pollinators as predicted by its pollination syndrome.
Methods
Pollinators of N. nucifera were investigated in 11 wild populations and one cultivated population, and pollination experiments were conducted to examine the pollinating role of two major pollinators (bees and beetles) in three populations.
Key Results
Lotus flowers are protogynous, bowl shaped and without nectar. The fragrant flowers can be self-heating during anthesis and produce around 1 million pollen grains per flower. It was found that bees and flies were the most frequent flower visitors in wild populations, contributing on average 87·9 and 49·4 % of seed set in Mishan and Lantian, respectively. Beetles were only found in one wild population and in the cultivated population, but the pollinator exclusion experiments showed that beetles were effective pollinators of Asian sacred lotus.
Conclusions
This study indicated that in their pollinating role, beetles, probable pollinators for this thermoregulating plant, had been replaced by some generalist insects in the wild. This finding implies that contemporary pollinators may not reflect the pollination syndrome.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcp173
PMCID: PMC2749538  PMID: 19617594
Nelumbo nucifera; beetle pollinated; pollination syndrome; effective pollinator; generalized flower; thermoregulation; Nelumbonaceae
23.  Selective Growth of Ag Nanodewdrop on Au Nanostructure: A New Type of Bimetallic Heterostructure 
A new type of bimetallic Au-Ag heterostructured material was prepared by a selective growing strategy of Ag nanodewdrop on the petal tip of Au flower using electrochemical method. The whole process was strictly controlled by forming the reactive tip of flower petal and passivating the facet along the body of metal petal using poly(vinyl pyrrolidone)(PVP) coating film. The formed Au-Ag HSFs were observed to be about 2 μm in diameter and have the Ag particles of about 50 nm settled on the tips of Au petals. The Au-Ag HSFs were found to display the superior properties on the surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). The presence of Ag nanodewdrops could also facilitate the oxidation of Ru(bpy)32+ complex in electrogenerated chemiluminescence (ECL) measurements and dramatically enhance the emission intensity. The features of Au-Ag HSFs can promise a new type of heterogeneous bimetallic alloy material for the potential applications in chemical and biological sensors.
doi:10.1021/la901490w
PMCID: PMC2770871  PMID: 19788230
Au-Ag heterostructured flower (HSF); electrodeposition; electron migration; surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS); electrogenerated chemiluminescence (ECL)
24.  Shrink-Induced Superhydrophobic and Antibacterial Surfaces in Consumer Plastics 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e40987.
Structurally modified superhydrophobic surfaces have become particularly desirable as stable antibacterial surfaces. Because their self-cleaning and water resistant properties prohibit bacteria growth, structurally modified superhydrophobic surfaces obviate bacterial resistance common with chemical agents, and therefore a robust and stable means to prevent bacteria growth is possible. In this study, we present a rapid fabrication method for creating such superhydrophobic surfaces in consumer hard plastic materials with resulting antibacterial effects. To replace complex fabrication materials and techniques, the initial mold is made with commodity shrink-wrap film and is compatible with large plastic roll-to-roll manufacturing and scale-up techniques. This method involves a purely structural modification free of chemical additives leading to its inherent consistency over time and successive recasting from the same molds. Finally, antibacterial properties are demonstrated in polystyrene (PS), polycarbonate (PC), and polyethylene (PE) by demonstrating the prevention of gram-negative Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria growth on our structured plastic surfaces.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040987
PMCID: PMC3423404  PMID: 22916100
25.  Superhydrophobic surfaces of the water bug Notonecta glauca: a model for friction reduction and air retention 
Summary
Superhydrophobic surfaces of plants and animals are of great interest for biomimetic applications. Whereas the self-cleaning properties of superhydrophobic surfaces have been extensively investigated, their ability to retain an air film while submerged under water has not, in the past, received much attention. Nevertheless, air retaining surfaces are of great economic and ecological interest because an air film can reduce friction of solid bodies sliding through the water. This opens perspectives for biomimetic applications such as low friction fluid transport or friction reduction on ship hulls. For such applications the durability of the air film is most important. While the air film on most superhydrophobic surfaces usually lasts no longer than a few days, a few semi-aquatic plants and insects are able to hold an air film over a longer time period. Currently, we found high air film persistence under hydrostatic conditions for the elytra of the backswimmer Notonecta glauca which we therefore have chosen for further investigations. In this study, we compare the micro- and nanostructure of selected body parts (sternites, upper side of elytra, underside of elytra) in reference to their air retaining properties. Our investigations demonstrate outstanding air film persistence of the upper side of the elytra of Notonecta glauca under hydrostatic and hydrodynamic conditions. This hierarchically structured surface was able to hold a complete air film under hydrostatic conditions for longer than 130 days while on other body parts with simple structures the air film showed gaps (underside of elytra) or even vanished completely after a few days (sternites). Moreover, the upper side of the elytra was able to keep an air film up to flow velocities of 5 m/s. Obviously the complex surface structure with tiny dense microtrichia and two types of larger specially shaped setae is relevant for this outstanding ability. Besides high air film persistence, the observation of a considerable fluid velocity directly at the air–water interface indicates the ability to reduce friction significantly. The combination of these two abilities makes these hierarchically structured surfaces extremely interesting as a biomimetic model for low friction fluid transport or drag reduction on ship hulls.
doi:10.3762/bjnano.2.17
PMCID: PMC3148060  PMID: 21977425
air film; aquatic insects; backswimmer; drag reduction; superhydrophobic surfaces

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