A team of biologists, led by Clemson University associate professor Andrew S. Mount, performed cutting-edge research on a marine pest that will pave the way for novel anti-fouling paint for ships and boats and also improve bio-adhesives for medical and industrial applications.
The team’s findings, published in Nature Communications, examined the last larval stage of barnacles that attaches to a wide variety of surfaces using highly versatile, natural, possibly polymeric material that acts as an underwater heavy-duty adhesive.
“In previous research, we were trying to understand how barnacle adhesives were interacting with surfaces of different chemistries,” said Mount, an author on the journal article and founder and director of the Okeanos Research Laboratory in Clemson’s department of biological sciences. “Most biofouling researchers assume that cyprid larval adhesive plaques are primarily composed of proteins and peptides, but we discovered that lipids are also present, which means that the composition of the permanent adhesive is far more complicated that previously realized.”
The torpedo-shaped cyprid larvae is the last larval stage before the animal undergoes metamorphosis to become the familiar barnacle seen on pilings and jetties along the coast. Once the cyprid has found a potentially suitable spot, it cements itself permanently in place and then undergoes metamorphosis to become an adult calcareous barnacle.
In order to survive and reproduce, benthic — or bottom-dwelling — marine invertebrates like barnacles need to attach themselves in close proximity to each other. These organisms have evolved an array of adhesion mechanisms that allow them to attach virtually anywhere, including nuclear submarines, maritime ships and offshore drilling rigs, and even to animals like turtles and whales.
“The ability of barnacles to adhere to surfaces that have very different physical and chemical properties is unique and provides insight into the unique physic-chemical properties of their larval adhesive,” Mount said.
With funding from the Office of Naval Research, the researchers built a two-photon microscopy system and, in collaboration with Marcus Cicerone at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, employed his innovative technique known as Broadband Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering to delineate the two different phases of the barnacle cyprid adhesive plaque.
“Using these techniques, we found that the permanent adhesive is made up of two phases: a lipid phase and a protein phase,” said Mount. “The lipid phase is released first. We believe that this lipid phase protects the protein phase from excess hydration and the damaging effects of seawater, and it may limit the protein phase from spreading too thin and losing its ability to securely adhere the larvae to a surface.”
This is the first finding of functional roles of lipids in marine bioadhesives.
“The application of both two-photon microscopy and broadband coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering clearly demonstrated the role of lipids, which we traced back to the cement glands and showed that they are produced and contained in a separate subsets of cells,” he said.
The researchers’ renewed understanding of barnacle cyprid adhesives will advance anti-fouling coatings for the maritime industry in the years to come and help develop a new class of bio-adhesives for medical and industrial applications.
Ranked No. 21 among national public universities, Clemson University is a major, land-grant, science- and engineering-oriented research university that maintains a strong commitment to teaching and student success. Clemson is an inclusive, student-centered community characterized by high academic standards, a culture of collaboration, school spirit and a competitive drive to excel.
This material is based upon work supported by the Office of Naval Research under grant numbers N00014-11-1-0183 and N00014-11-1-0784 Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Naval Research.
Andrew S. Mount | Eurek Alert!
Fish Oil-Diet Benefits May be Mediated by Gut Microbes
28.08.2015 | University of Gothenburg
Bio-fabrication of Artificial Blood Vessels with Laser Light
28.08.2015 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
A University of Oklahoma astrophysicist and his Chinese collaborator have found two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth, using observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
The discovery of two supermassive black holes--one larger one and a second, smaller one--are evidence of a binary black hole and suggests that supermassive...
A team of European researchers have developed a model to simulate the impact of tsunamis generated by earthquakes and applied it to the Eastern Mediterranean. The results show how tsunami waves could hit and inundate coastal areas in southern Italy and Greece. The study is published today (27 August) in Ocean Science, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).
Though not as frequent as in the Pacific and Indian oceans, tsunamis also occur in the Mediterranean, mainly due to earthquakes generated when the African...
In mountainous regions earthquakes often cause strong landslides, which can be exacerbated by heavy rain. However, after an initial increase, the frequency of these mass wasting events, often enormous and dangerous, declines, in fact independently of meteorological events and aftershocks.
These new findings are presented by a German-Franco-Japanese team of geoscientists in the current issue of the journal Geology, under the lead of the GFZ...
Bacteria do not cease to amaze us with their survival strategies. A research team from the University of Basel's Biozentrum has now discovered how bacteria enter a sleep mode using a so-called FIC toxin. In the current issue of “Cell Reports”, the scientists describe the mechanism of action and also explain why their discovery provides new insights into the evolution of pathogens.
For many poisons there are antidotes which neutralize their toxic effect. Toxin-antitoxin systems in bacteria work in a similar manner: As long as a cell...
It comes when called, bringing care utensils with it and recording how they are used: Fraunhofer IPA is developing an intelligent care cart that provides care staff with physical and informational support in their day-to-day work. The scientists at Fraunhofer IPA have now completed a first prototype. In doing so, they are continuing in their efforts to improve working conditions in the care sector and are developing solutions designed to address the challenges of demographic change.
Technical assistance systems can improve the difficult working conditions in residential nursing homes and hospitals by helping the staff in their work and...
20.08.2015 | Event News
20.08.2015 | Event News
19.08.2015 | Event News
28.08.2015 | Physics and Astronomy
28.08.2015 | Health and Medicine
28.08.2015 | Life Sciences