Nature Thought Of It First


Nuclear Diner

The latest is combining two components to make an enormously strong glue, as we do with epoxy. That’s what mussels have been doing much longer.

Mussels live in a difficult environment – sea rocks between the tide lines. They are constantly battered by waves. They glue themselves to the rocks with a glue that they form by mixing iron and vanadium compounds.

Tobias Priemel, Gurveer Palia, Frank Förste, Franziska Jehle, Ioanna Mantouvalou, Paul Zaslansky, Luca Bertinetti, and Matthew Harrington, at McGill University, found that mechanism. The photo illustrates how it works. And vanadium is a very rare metal in biological processes.

Longer article here, and preprint here.


Image credit: T. Priemel A scanning electron micrograph (left) shows part of a microchannel within the glue-secreting organ of a mussel. The channel is lined with cilia (blue). Mussels release adhesive protein sacs (green) from their tissues (yellow) into…

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