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Dr. Andy Sombke

Dr. rer. nat. habil. Andy Sombke

Group leader

Medical University of Vienna
Center for Anatomy and Cell Biology
Cell and Developmental Biology
Schwarzspanierstrasse 17 (B)
1090 Vienna, Austria

E-Mail: andy.sombke@meduniwien.ac.at
Phone: +43 (0)1 40160-37807

» ORCID  » Google Scholar  » ResearchGate

Projects & methods

  • comparative neuroanatomy
  • venom glands and delivery mechanisms
  • appendage development and regeneration
  • anatomy of respiratory systems
  • SEM, TEM, LM, cLSM, microCT, histology, IHC, 3D
Centipede appendages: anatomy, ultrastructure and biomedical applications

Centipedes are fascinating creatures found worldwide in terrestrial environments. Despite their name, centipedes do not have exactly 100 legs; the number varies among species and can range from 30 to over 300. They are predators and primarily feed on small invertebrates and vertebrates, using their venom claws (forcipules) to inject toxins into their prey. Centipedes play a crucial role in regulating insect populations, contributing significantly to ecosystems. Despite their intimidating appearance and venomous capabilities, most centipedes are harmless to humans (at least in Central Europe). Bites typically cause local reactions such as swelling and pain, but severe reactions are rare.

Our anatomical investigations involve detailed examinations of the structural organization of centipede appendages, unraveling their complexity and adaptability. By employing advanced imaging techniques such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), the ultrastructure of these appendages and associated organs is explored at a microscopic level. This provides insights into the cellular composition, development, regeneration, and functional adaptations that contribute to their remarkable capabilities. Furthermore, we investigate form and function of other evolutionary transformed appendages in relation to prey capture, defense, sensory reception, and locomotion.

By exploring centipede biology from a medical perspective, this project seeks to bridge the gap between fundamental research and practical applications, ranging from the development of bioinspired technologies to the discovery of novel therapeutics. Understanding the molecular components of centipede venom may lead to the identification of bioactive compounds with therapeutic potential, applicable in fields like pharmacology, neurology, and pain management.

Publications

2024

Züger S, Krings W, Gorb SN, Büscher TH, Sombke A (subm.) Material composition and mechanical properties of the venom-injecting forcipules in centipedes.

Schendel V, Müller CHG, Kenning M, Maxwell M, Jenner RA, Undheim EAB*, Sombke A* (in rev.) The venom and telopodal defence systems of the centipede Lithobius forficatus are functionally convergent serial homologues. *shared last authorship

Decker SH, Saadi A, Baranyi C, Hirose M, Lemer S, Sombke A, Aguilera-Muñoz F, Vieira L, Smith A, Waeschenbach A, Schwaha T (accepted) Boring systematics: a genome skimmed phylogeny of ctenostome bryozoans and their endolithic family Penetrantiidae with the desciption of one new species. Ecology and Evolution.

Teixeria RG, Stefanelli A, Pilon A, Warmers R, Fontrodona X, Romero I, Costa PJ, Villa de Brito MJ, Hudec X, Pirker C, Türck S, Antunes A, Kowol CR, Ott I, Brozovic A, Sombke A, Eckhard M, Tomaz AI, Heffeter P, Valente A (2024) Paraptotic cell death as unprecedented mode of action observed for new bipyridine-silver(I) compounds bearing phosphane co-ligands. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. Open Access

2023

Sombke A, Müller CHG (2023) The visual system of Myriapoda. In: Bok M, Buschbeck EK (Eds.) Distributed Vision: From simple sensors to sophisticated combination eyes. pp. 168-203. Springer Series in Vision Research. Link

2022

v Reumont BM, Anderluh G, Antunes A, Ayvazyan N, Beis D, Caliskan F, Crnković A, Damm M, Dutertre S, Ellgaard L, Gajski G, German H, Halassy B, Hempel B-J, Hucho T, Igci N, Ikonomopoulou MP, Karbat I, Klapa MI, Koludarov I, Kool J, Lüddecke T, Mansour RB, Modica MV, Moran Y, Nalbantsoy A, Pachón-Ibáñez ME, Panagiotopoulous A, Reuveny E, Sanchez-Céspedes J, Sombke A, Surm AM, Undheim EAB, Verdes A, Zancolli G (2022) Modern venomics - Current insights, novel methods and future perspectives in biological and applied animal venom research. GigaScience 11: giac048. Open Access

v Reumont BM, Szucsich N, Sombke A (2022) Die unerwartet diversen Gifte der Hundertfüßer. Biologie in unserer Zeit 52(1): 38-46. Link

2021

Rosenberg J, Sombke A (2021) In memoriam Alfred Ernst (1930-2021). Newsletter of the International Society for Myriapodology 6: 15-19.

Martínez Muñoz CA, Sombke A (2021) The “Myriapod Morphology and Evolution” Facebook group. Newsletter of the International Society for Myriapodology 6: 12-14.

Sombke A, Rosenberg J, Hilken G, Müller CHG (2021) The antennal scape organ of Scutigera coleoptrata (Myriapoda) and a new type of arthropod tip-pore sensilla integrating scolopidial components. Frontiers in Zoology 18: 57. Open Access

Prömer J, Sombke A, Schwaha T (2021) A comparative analysis of the nervous system of cheilostome bryozoans. BMC Zoology 6:20. Open Access

Walker AA, Robinson SD, Paluzzi J-PV, Merritt DJ, Nixon SA, Schroeder CI, Jin J, Hedayati Gourdazi M, Kotze AC, Dekan Z, Sombke A, Alewood PF, Fry BG, Epstein M, Vetter I, King GF (2021) Production, composition, and mode of action of the painful defensive venom produced by a limacodid caterpillar, Doratifera vulnerans. PNAS 118(18): e2023815118. Link

Sombke A, Müller CHG (2021) When SEM becomes a deceptive tool of analysis: the unexpected discovery of epidermal glands with stalked ducts on the ultimate legs of geophilomorph centipedes. Frontiers in Zoology 18: 17. Open Access

Tait C, Kharva H, Schubert M, Kritsch D, Sombke A, Rybak J, Feder JL, Olsson SB (2021) A reversal in sensory processing accompanies ongoing ecological divergence and speciation in Rhagoletis pomonella. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 228: 20210192. Link

2020

Hilken G, Rosenberg J, Edgecombe GD, Blüml V, Hammel JU, Hasenberg A, Sombke A (2020) The tracheal system of scutigeromorph centipedes and the evolution of respiratory systems of myriapods. Arthropod Structure & Development 60: 101006. Open Access

Voigtländer K, Barndt D, Burkhardt U, Dannenfeld T, Heynen S, Lindner EN, Moritz L, Nauman B, Orsakowsky R, Sombke A, Reip H (2020) The millipedes and centipedes (Diplopoda, Chilopoda) of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Schorfheide-Chorin in Brandenburg (Germany). Schubartiana 9: 13-37. Open Access

Sombke A, Müller CHG (2020) Evolutionary transformations of centipede ultimate legs. Integrative and Comparative Biology 60: E218. (published abstract)

Steinhoff POM, Uhl G, Harzsch S, Sombke A (2020) Visual pathways in the brain of the jumping spider Marpissa muscosa. The Journal of Comparative Neurology 528: 1883-1902 Open Access

2019

Sombke A, Klann AE, Lipke A, Wolf H (2019) Primary processing neuropils associated with the malleoli of camel spiders (Arachnida, Solifugae) - a re-evaluation of axonal pathways. Zoological Letters 5:26. Open Access

Wittfoth C, Harzsch S, Wolff C*, Sombke A* (2019) The "amphi"-brains of amphipods: New insights from the neuroanatomy of Parhyale hawaiensis (Dana, 1853). Frontiers in Zoology 16:30. *shared last authorship Open Access

Kenning M, Schendel V, Müller CHG, Sombke A (2019) Comparative morphology of ultimate and walking legs in the centipede Lithobius forficatus (Myriapoda) with functional implications. Zoological Letters 5:3. Open Access

2018

Schendel V, Kenning M, Sombke A (2018) A comparative analysis of the ventral nerve cord of Lithobius forficatus (Lithobiomorpha): morphology, neuroanatomy, and individually identifiable neurons. Arthropod Systematics & Phylogeny 76(3): 377-394. Open Access

Spitzner F, Meth R, Krüger C, Nischik ES, Eiler S, Sombke A, Torres G, Harzsch S. (2018) An atlas of larval organogenesis in the European shore crab Carcinus maenas L. (Decapoda, Brachyura, Portunidae). Frontiers in Zoology 15: 27. Open Access

Haug JT, Haug C, Neumann C, Sombke A, Hörnig MK (2018) Early post-embryonic polyxenidan millipedes from Saxonian amber (Eocene). Bulletin of Geosciences 93: 1. Open Access

Walker AA, Mayhew ML, Jin J, Herzig V, Undheim EAB, Sombke A, Fry BG, Merritt D, King GF (2018) The assassin bug Pristhesancus plagipennis produces distinct predatory and defensive venoms in separate gland lumens. Nature Communications 9: 755. Open Access

Steinhoff POM, Liedtke J, Sombke A, Schneider JM, Uhl G (2018) Early environmental conditions affect the volume of higher brain centers in a jumping spider. Journal of Zoology 304: 182–192. Link

2017

Kenning M, Müller CHG, Sombke A (2017) The ultimate legs of Chilopoda (Myriapoda): a review on their morphological disparity and functional variability. PeerJ 5:e4023. Open Access

Sombke A (2017) Comparative Analysis of the Centipede Nervous System - Past, Present and Future in Arthropod Neuroanatomical Research. Tropical Natural History, Supplement 5: 21 (published abstract, 17th International Congress of Myriapodology). Link

Kenning M, Sombke A (2017) Sensing from Both Ends? Transformation of Locomotory into Multifunctional Appendages in Chilopoda (Myriapoda). Tropical Natural History, Supplement 5: 22 (published abstract, 17th International Congress of Myriapodology). Link

Müller CHG, Wagenknecht P, Sombke A (2017) Ultrastructure and Phylogenetic Evaluation of the Tömösváry Organ in Craterostigmus tasmanianus Pocock, 1902 (Myriapoda: Chilopoda). Tropical Natural History, Supplement 5: 56 (published abstract, 17th International Congress of Myriapodology). Link

Müller CHG, Sombke A, Thoen H, Undheim EAB (2017) Comparative Morphology and Evolutionary Transformation of Venom Glands in Chilopoda. Tropical Natural History, Supplement 5: 42 (published abstract, 17th International Congress of Myriapodology). Link

Sombke A, Stemme T (2017) Serotonergic neurons in the ventral nerve cord of Chilopoda - a mandibulate pattern of individually identifiable neurons. BMC Zoological Letters 3: 9. Open Access

Henne A, Sombke A, Schmidt-Rhaesa A (2017) Immunohistochemical analysis of the anterior nervous system of the free-living nematode Plectus spp. (Nematoda, Plectidae). Zoomorphology 136(2): 175-190. Link

Steinhoff POM*, Sombke A*, Liedtke J, Schneider JM, Harzsch S, Uhl G. (2017) The synganglion of the jumping spider Marpissa muscosa (Arachnida: Salticidae): insights from histology, immunohistochemistry and microCT analysis. Arthropod Structure & Development 46(2): 156-170. *shared first authorship Link

Henne S, Friedrich F, Hammel J, Sombke A, Schmidt-Rhaesa A (2017) Reconstructing the anterior part of the nervous system of Gordius aquaticus<(i> (Nematomorpha, Cycloneuralia) by a multi-methodological approach. Journal of Morphology 278: 106-118. Link

2016

Hädicke CW, Ernst A, Sombke A (2016) Sensing more than the bathroom: sensilla on the antennae, cerci and styli of the silverfish Lepisma saccharina Linneaus, 1758 (Zygentoma: Lepismatidae). Entomologia Generalis 36: 71-89. Link

Hörnig MK, Sombke A, Haug C, Harzsch S, Haug JT (2016) What nymphal morphology can tell us about parental investment – a group of cockroach hatchlings in Baltic Amber documented by a multi-method approach. Palaeontologia Electronica 19.1.5A: 1-20. Open Access

Sombke A, Rosenberg J (2016) Myriapoda. In: Schmidt-Rhaesa A, Harzsch S, Purschke G. (Eds.) Structure and Evolution of Invertebrate Nervous Systems. pp. 478-491. Oxford University Press.

Batelle BA, Sombke A, Harzsch S (2016) Xiphosura. In: Schmidt-Rhaesa A, Harzsch S, Purschke G. (Eds.) Structure and Evolution of Invertebrate Nervous Systems. pp 428-442. Oxford University Press.

Lehmann T, Melzer RR, Hörnig MK, Michalik P, Sombke A, Harzsch S (2016) Arachnida (excluding Scorpiones). In: Schmidt-Rhaesa A, Harzsch S, Purschke G. (Eds.) Structure and Evolution of Invertebrate Nervous Systems. pp. 453-477. Oxford University Press.

2015

Sombke A, Harzsch S (2015) Immunolocalization of histamine in the optic neuropils of Scutigera coleoptrata (Myriapoda: Chilopoda) reveals the basal organization of visual systems in Mandibulata. Neuroscience Letters 594: 111-116. Link

Sombke A*, Lipke E*, Michalik P, Uhl G, Harzsch S (2015) Potential and limitations of X-ray micro-computed tomography in arthropod neuroanatomy – a methodological and comparative survey. The Journal of Comparative Neurology 523(8): 1281-1295. *shared first authorship Open Access

Hilken G, Edgecombe GD, Müller CHG, Sombke A, Wirkner C, Rosenberg J (2015) Interaction of the tracheal tubules of Scutigera coleoptrata (Notostigmophora: Chilopoda) with glandular structures of the pericardial septum. Zookeys 510: 233-242. Open Access

Hädicke CW, Blank SM, Pohl H, Müller CHG, Sombke A (2015) Sensing the world without antennae and eyes: external structure and distribution of sensilla in Eosentomon pinetorum Szeptycki, 1984 and on the protarsus of Acerentomon franzi Nosek, 1965 (Hexapoda: Protura). Soil Organisms 87 (1): 29-49. Open Access

Hädicke CW, Blank SM, Sombke A (2015) Erstnachweis von Eosentomon pinetorum Szeptycki, 1984 (Protura: Eosentomidae) in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Virgo 18: 44-45.

Sombke A, Rosenberg J (2015) Diplopoda - Nervous and neuroendocrine system. In: Minelli A (Ed.) Treatise on Zoology - Anatomy, Taxonomy, Biology - The Myriapoda II. pp. 161-179. Brill, Leiden.

Müller CHG, Sombke A (2015) Diplopoda - Sense Organs. In: Minelli A (Ed.) Treatise on Zoology - Anatomy, Taxonomy, Biology - The Myriapoda II. pp. 181-235. Brill, Leiden.

Hilken G, Sombke A, Müller CHG, Rosenberg J (2015) Diplopoda - Tracheal system. In: Minelli A (Ed.) Treatise on Zoology - Anatomy, Taxonomy, Biology - The Myriapoda II. pp. 129-152. Brill, Leiden.

2014

Sombke A, Edgecombe GD (2014) Morphology and evolution of Myriapoda. Arthropod Structure & Development 43: 3-4. Link

Haug JT, Haug C, Schweigert G, Sombke A (2014) The evolution of centipede venom claws – open questions and possible answers. Arthropod Structure & Development 43: 5-16. Link

Sombke A, Ernst A (2014) Structure and distribution of antennal sensilla in Oranmorpha guerinii (Gervais, 1837) (Diplopoda, Polydesmida). Arthropod Structure and Development 43: 77-86. Link

2013

Loesel R, Wolf H, Kenning M, Harzsch S, Sombke A (2013) Architectural principles and evolution of the arthropod central nervous system. In: Minelli A, Boxshall G, Fusco G (Eds.) Arthropod Biology and Evolution: Molecules, Development, Morphology. pp. 299-342. Springer, Berlin. Link

Ernst A, Hilken G, Rosenberg J, Voigtländer K, Sombke A (2013) Structure and distribution of antennal sensilla in the centipede Scolopendra oraniensis (Latreille, 1829) (Chilopoda, Scolopendromorpha). Zoologischer Anzeiger 252: 217-225. Link

Haug JT, Müller CHG, Sombke A (2013) A centipede nymph in Baltic amber and a new approach for documenting amber fossils. Organisms Diversity & Evolution 13: 425-432. Link

2012

Krieger J, Sombke A, Seefluth F, Kenning M, Hansson BS, Harzsch S (2012) Comparative brain architecture of the European shore Crab Carcinus maenas (Brachyura) and the Common hermit Crab Pagurus bernhardus (Anomura). Cell and Tissue Research. 348(1):47-69. Link

Sombke A, Lipke E, Kenning M, Müller C, Hansson BS, Harzsch S (2012) Comparative analysis of deutocerebral neuropils in Chilopoda (Myriapoda): implications for the evolution of the arthropod olfactory system and support for the Mandibulata concept. BMC Neuroscience 13:1. Open Access

Sombke A (2012) Comparative studies on the nervous system of the Chilopoda with emphasis on the organization of deutocerebral neuropils, sensory structures and olfactory behavior. Inaugural-Dissertation Universität Greifswald. 231 pp.

2011

Sombke A, Rosenberg J, Hilken G, Westermann M, Ernst A (2011) The source of chilopod sensory information: External structure and distribution of antennal sensilla in Scutigera coleoptrata. Journal of Morphology 272: 1376-1387. Link

Sombke A, Harzsch S, Hansson BS (2011) Organization of deutocerebral neuropils and olfactory behavior in the centipede Scutigera coleoptrata (Linnaeus, 1758) (Myriapoda: Chilopoda). Chemical Senses 36: 43-61. Open Access

Minelli A, Sombke A (2011) Chilopoda - Development. In: Minelli A (Ed.) Treatise on Zoology - Anatomy, Taxonomy, Biology - The Myriapoda I. pp. 295-308. Brill, Leiden.

Sombke A, Rosenberg J, Hilken G (2011) Chilopoda - The nervous system. In: Minelli A (Ed.) Treatise on Zoology - Anatomy, Taxonomy, Biology - The Myriapoda I. pp. 217-234. Brill, Leiden.

Müller CHG, Sombke A, Hilken G, Rosenberg J (2011) Chilopoda - Sense organs. In: Minelli A (Ed.) Treatise on Zoology - Anatomy, Taxonomy, Biology - The Myriapoda I. pp. 235-278. Brill, Leiden.

Hilken G, Müller CHG, Sombke A, Wirkner CS, Rosenberg J (2011) Chilopoda - Tracheal system. In: Minelli A (Ed.) Treatise on Zoology - Anatomy, Taxonomy, Biology - The Myriapoda I. pp. 137-155. Brill, Leiden.

Rosenberg J, Sombke A, Hilken G (2011) Chilopoda - Excretory system. In: Minelli A (Ed.) Treatise on Zoology - Anatomy, Taxonomy, Biology - The Myriapoda I. pp. 177-195. Brill, Leiden.

Hilken G, Minelli A, Müller CHG, Rosenberg J, Sombke A, Wirkner CS (2011) Chilopoda - History of research. In: Minelli A (Ed.) Treatise on Zoology - Anatomy, Taxonomy, Biology - The Myriapoda I. pp. 22-42. Brill, Leiden.

Sombke A (2011) Das Geruchssystem der Hundertfüßer. Greifswalder Universitätsreden 143: 29-39.

2010 and older

Rieger V, Perez Y, Müller C, Lipke E, Sombke A, Hansson BS, Harzsch S (2010) Immunohistochemical analysis and 3D reconstruction of the cephalic nervous system in Chaetognatha: insights into an early bilaterian brain? Invertebrate Biology 129(1): 77-104. Link

Rosenberg J, Sombke A & Hilken G (2009) Structure and Function of the Maxillary Nephridium of Lithobius forficatus (Chilopoda, Pleurostigmomorpha). Journal of Morphology. 270(12): 1531-1540. Link

Sombke A, Harzsch S, Hansson BS (2009) Brain structure of Scutigera coleoptrata: New insights into the evolution of mandibulate olfactory centers - Short communication. Soil Organisms 81 (3): 319-325. Open Access

Sombke A, Harzsch S, Hansson BS (2008) Brain structure of Scutigera coleoptrata (Myriapoda: Chilopoda): new insights into the evolution of mandibulate olfactory centers. Peckiana 6: 24. (published abstract)

Sombke A, Harzsch S, Hansson BS (2008) Brain structure of Scutigera coleoptrata (Myriapoda: Chilopoda): new insights into the evolution of mandibulate olfactory centers. Journal of Morphology 269(12): 1483. (published abstract)

Müller C, Sombke A & Rosenberg J (2007) The fine structure of the eyes of some bristly millipedes (Penicillata, Diplopoda): Additional support for the homology of mandibulate ommatidia. Arthropod Structure & Development 36: 463-476. Link

Sombke A, Schlegel M (2007) Orthoptera and Mantodea of Istria and the croatian island Šipan. Rostocker Meeresbiologische Beiträge 18: 131-137.

Sombke A (2004) Die Link'schen Typen. biologenheute - vdbiol Landesverbände Nord 3: 12-14.

Sombke A (2003) Sigismund Brauns (1839–1913) und seine Käfersammlung an der Universität Rostock (Insecta: Coleoptera). Arch. Freunde Naturg. Mecklenburg. 42: 5-43.

Sombke A (2000) Ein Neufund der Gewächshausschrecke (Tachycines asynamorus Adelung, 1902) in Rostock. Arch. Freunde Naturg. Mecklenb. 39: 39-44.