Posted | Wednesday 20th July, 2011
Scientists in the US are investigating how oysters can bind to reefs and to each other, in a bid to develop new synthetic composite materials with properties that imitate oyster glue.
They analysed the chemical composition of the oyster glue and the vast majority, around 90%, was formed mainly of inorganic species such as calcium carbonate. This is what sets oysters apart from other marine species like mussels and barnacles, whose glues are mainly protein based, with only a small proportion of inorganic material.
"It appears that oysters have more of a hard, inorganic cement, compared to mussels and barnacles that produce more of a soft organic glue" say scientists.
They hope that by studying the different properties of oyster adhesive could lead to development of a new class of synthetic materials. "One of the more appealing ideas would be to adapt this type of technology into a surgical adhesive, a bone cement or even dental cement" they say.
By understanding how oysters can stick so well to surfaces, scientists could also develop solutions to prevent them from sticking in the first place, useful for anti-fouling coatings on ships hulls. Find out more at http://bit.ly/drG0ay