Cicada Wing Surface Topography: An Investigation into the Bactericidal Properties of Nanostructural Features

S. M. Kelleher*, O. Habimana, J. Lawler, B. O'reilly, S. Daniels, E. Casey, A. Cowley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

242 Scopus citations


Recently, the surface of the wings of the Psaltoda claripennis cicada species has been shown to possess bactericidal properties and it has been suggested that the nanostructure present on the wings was responsible for the bacterial death. We have studied the surface-based nanostructure and bactericidal activity of the wings of three different cicadas (Megapomponia intermedia, Ayuthia spectabile and Cryptotympana aguila) in order to correlate the relationship between the observed surface topographical features and their bactericidal properties. Atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy performed in this study revealed that the tested wing species contained a highly uniform, nanopillar structure on the surface. The bactericidal properties of the cicada wings were investigated by assessing the viability of autofluorescent Pseudomonas fluorescens cells following static adhesion assays and targeted dead/live fluorescence staining through direct microscopic counting methods. These experiments revealed a 20-25% bacterial surface coverage on all tested wing species; however, significant bactericidal properties were observed in the M. intermedia and C. aguila species as revealed by the high dead:live cell ratio on their surfaces. The combined results suggest a strong correlation between the bactericidal properties of the wings and the scale of the nanotopography present on the different wing surfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14966-14974
Number of pages9
JournalACS applied materials & interfaces
Issue number24
StatePublished - 22 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • and topography
  • bactericidal
  • cicada
  • nanostructures
  • surface science


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