Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oyster glue's secret ingredient

The natural cement produced by oysters to build extensive reef systems contains significantly more inorganic material than the glues of other marine species, and could spur development of new synthetic adhesives for biomedical devices or antifouling coatings for ships, say researchers in the US.

Jonathan Wilker and his team at Purdue University and colleagues at the University of South Carolina have been investigating how oysters bind to reefs and each other, in a bid to develop synthetic composite materials with properties that imitate the oyster glue.

The team analysed the chemical composition of oysters' adhesive using infrared spectroscopy, electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy and thermogravimetric analysis. They found higher protein content in the adhesive material than in oyster shell (10 per cent as opposed to 2 per cent), and evidence of protein cross-linking, iron species and radical species.

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