DTA

Digital Theses Archive

 

Tesi etd-09302019-115130

Type of thesis
Perfezionamento
Author
MELONI, GABRIELLA
URN
etd-09302019-115130
Title
A MOLECULAR APPROACH TO BIOINSPIRATION: elucidating sensorial capabilities of octopus to drive robot design
Structure
ING-IND/34
Course
INGEGNERIA - Biorobotics
Committee
relatore Prof.ssa LASCHI, CECILIA
Membro Dott. DEGL'INNOCENTI, ANDREA
Membro Prof.ssa MAZZOLAI, BARBARA
Keywords
  • adhesion
  • GPCR
  • molecular biology
  • octopus
  • rhodopsin
  • sensing
  • sucker
Exam session start date
;
Availability
parziale
Abstract
The molecular knowledge on animals that are not classical models for biology remains comparatively scarce. Still, an increasing interest from engineers towards non-model species requires specific biological research. My thesis aims to overcome obstacles in the comprehension of the molecular aspects of sensing in Octopus vulgaris within its arms and suckers, starting from the Octopus bimaculoides genome. Are there any particular structures deputed to light detection within the arms? Are suckers used as a primary organ for foraging? To answer these questions, a first characterization of the expression pattern of genes involved in sensing is crucial. After a translation of biological and molecular mechanisms underlying the sensorial capabilities of octopus, the aspects implementable should be identified and transferred in new robotic solutions.<br>The innovation of my thesis is represented by its molecular approach, which is rarely used in bioinspired robotics. Namely, while it became quite frequent to look into nature to find innovative robotic solutions, but it is not equally common to implement molecular analyses. To answer biological questions, engineers typically utilize behavioral experiments; these can certainly provide great insight into the general understanding of an animal model, but a more in-depth biological analysis can yield a deeper comprehension of natural phenomena. The nervous system of the octopus is particularly interesting for the delocalization of the control from the central brain: understanding how the sensorial capabilities are managed within the arm can drive new control strategies for robotics, in particular for soft robotics, in which control remains a primary issue.<br>The PhD work is divided in two main parts to achieve the purpose: a merely biological investigation and a robotic application.<br>The biological investigation has been further divided in two sections, one that handles genomic data in silico and a second one looking directly into tissue sections of arms and suckers. The genomic analyses include a gene screening of important sensory receptors selected for this study. Histological analyses discover where and how proteins and RNAs for the chosen genes are distributed.<br>The robotic application provides a method that might be implemented in the future using a sensing protein obtained from the biological investigation. The current application explores the aspect of adhesion of a sucker developing an adhesive device cured with a mollusk protein.
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