Thesis subject

Directional Probing in Parasitic Wasps

The advantages of minimal invasive techniques in medicine are paramount, but one of the most applied methods, injection, still uses straight and thick needles that often cause unnecessary damage.

This project is part of a larger research line that aims for the development of ultrathin steerable needles that can avoid delicate tissues (see https://weblog.wur.eu/spotlight/parasitic-wasp-inspires-advancements-in-surgery/). We use the ovipositor of parasitic wasps as model for our needle, because wasps can use their thin ovipositors much like we want to use our needles. The wasps are able to steer their very slender ovipositor in complex trajectories towards larvae hidden within a substrate, while avoiding obstacles, to lay their eggs inside those larvae.

During this thesis project we like to focus on a number of aspects of the steering and drilling mechanisms that are applied by the wasps. The main question is if the wasps are able to aim for specific targets and how well they can do this. Keep in mind that the target is located in substrate and that the wasp has no visual information of the location of the target. When we know how well they can aim we like to focus on the steering mechanism, because, although we have a general idea of how it works in general, some details are still to be discovered.

You will use 3D macro high-speed video recordings to capture the behaviour of the wasps, and use image analysis to quantify the observed movement. We will give you the possibility to adjust the project based on your own ideas, and if you want a high level of independence in your project. Depending on how well the project will go additional elements might be added.

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For questions or application (incl. CV and letter of motivation), please contact Sander Gussekloo.

Examiner: Prof. Dr. Ir. Johan L. van Leeuwen
Supervisors: Sander Gussekloo
Contact: Sander Gussekloo (via contact form)
Begin date: 01/10/2019 (variable)
End date: 01/01/2222 (variable)
Credits: 36 ECTS (variable)
For: MSc Biology / Animal Sciences
Requirements: Successful completion of Functional Zoology (EZO 30806)
Used skills: Experimental set-up design, 3D high-speed video techniques, image analysis, statistics. Possibility for computer programming