Dr. Carroll M. Williams, associate professor of Zoology, spoke on the mighty muscles of flying insects at a National Academy of Sciences meeting in Washington, D.C. yesterday.
His report discussed the studies made in cooperation with Dr. Mary I. Watanabe of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Research and Development Laboratories. The pair concentrated their experimentations on thoracic muscles, which reportedly move insects' wings at rates up to 1,000 beats per second.
Their investigations demonstrated that the muscle tissue was divided into two separate machines-an energy converter and a contraction mechanism. The energy converters, called mitochondria, were found to be 10 to 15 times as large as those of the non-flying insects.
Dr. Williams pointed out that study of mitochondria has provided the bio-chemist with his first tangible evidence of the organization of enzyme systems within the cytoplasm of living cells. This work is facilitated by the use of the electron microscope.
The muscle tissue worked on by the research pair came from the thorax of the common fruit fly, the insect used most frequently by experimenters in the field of genetics.