Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Nature’s strongest glue could be used as a medical adhesive

A bacterium that lives in rivers, streams and human aqueducts uses nature’s strongest glue to stay in one place, according to new research by Indiana University Bloomington and Brown University scientists reported in next week’s (April 11) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientists found they had to apply a force of about 1 micronewton to remove a single Caulobacter crescentus from a glass pipette. Because C. crescentus is so small, the pulling force of 1 micronewton generates a huge stress of 70 newtons per square millimeter. That stress, which the bacterial adhesions could sometimes withstand, is equivalent to five tons per square inch -- three or four cars balanced atop a quarter. By contrast, commercial "super" glue breaks when a shear force of 18 to 28 newtons per square millimeter is applied.

Caulobacter crescentus affixes itself to solid objects with its stalk and holdfast. Here, two sessile "stalk" cells (bottom) spawn mobile "swarmer" clones of themselves (top).

Hypothetically, C. crescentus’s glue could be mass produced and used to coat surfaces for medical and engineering purposes.

"There are obvious applications since this adhesive works on wet surfaces," said IU Bloomington bacteriologist Yves Brun, who co-led the study with Brown University physicist Jay Tang. "One possibility would be as a biodegradable surgical adhesive."

C. crescentus affixes itself to rocks and the insides of water pipes via a long, slender stalk. At the end of the stalk is a holdfast dotted with polysaccharides (chains of sugar molecules). The scientists show in the PNAS paper that these sugars are the source of C. crescentus’s tenacity. It is presumed these sugars are attached to holdfast proteins, but this has not yet been confirmed. One thing is certain -- the polysaccharides are sticky.

"The challenge will be to produce large quantities of this glue without it sticking to everything that is used to produce it," Brun said. "Using special mutants, we can isolate the glue on glass surfaces. We tried washing the glue off. It didn’t work."

The scientists allowed C. crescentus to attach itself to the side of a thin, flexible glass pipette. They used a micromanipulator to trap the cell portion of the bacterium and pull it directly away from the pipette, measuring the force of strain. In 14 trials, the scientists found they had to apply a force of 0.11 to 2.26 micronewtons per cell before the bacterium detached.

C. crescentus has evolved an ability to live in extremely nutrient-poor conditions, which explains its existence as a common fixture in tap water. Because it exists in tap water at low concentrations and produces no human toxins, C. crescentus poses no threat to human health.

Engineer L. Ben Freund wrote the model used to perform complex mathematical analyses of experimental forces. Peter Tsang and Guanglai Li of Brown University performed experiments and analyzed data. The research was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (National Institutes of Health).

David Bricker | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Sweetening neurotransmitter receptors and other neuronal proteins
28.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung

nachricht A new look at thyroid diseases
28.10.2016 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>