The secrets of marine superglue
Bremen/Vienna/Galway – A novel protein glue that helps colonies of the barnacle Dosima fascicularis to float on the surface of the water and stick to vessels could inspire the next revolution in medicine and material sciences. Researchers from Vienna University, the Fraunhofer-IFAM in Bremen and the National University of Ireland at Galway say it doesn’t appear to be toxic, it adheres to materials such as teflon, and is available in huge amounts for analysis. They have just begun characterising the barnacle’s cement. “The glue is a completely new system that is not yet patented, which makes it a highly attractive research field,” explained Dr. Ingo Grunwald from the Fraunhofer-IFAM. While Grunwald is analysing the protein sequence of the acid (pH 2.5) superglue, which polymerises when secreted, his co-worker Waltraud Klepal in Vienna is analysing its structure and the way it is produced in Dosima. The Irish group under Anne Marie Power is looking at adhesion and cohesion mechanisms. The goal of the project, which is running until 2012, is to develop a glue that mimics the properties of the glue from the sea.