Barnacles use clot-like glue to stick to shipsOctober 16th, 2009 - 4:57 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Oct 16 (ANI): Barnacles create a lot of trouble for boats. These hitchhikers adhere to the surface of the boat hull, which can increase fuel consumption by as much as 25 percent. So figuring what keeps them on boats may help figure out how to take them off-or keep them from getting there in the first place.
Scientists have been studying the composition of super-strong barnacle glue for years. Now, a new analysis of the cement reveals that it has many of the same properties as a human blood coagulant, factor XIII, which helps to form scabs.
“It seems likely that barnacle glue polymerization is a specialized form of wound healing,” Dan Rittschof of Duke University said in a prepared statement. The glue analysis he headed up was published online today in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
After quickly gathering un-polymerized glue from lab-based mussels before it set, the research team analyzed it using an atomic force microscope. In the glue, they noticed tangled fiber webs that resembled those found in blood clots.
They also found clot-enhancing enzymes similar to the trypsin-like serine proteases found in blood.
Using mass spectrometry, the team found that some of the protein sequences in the barnacle glue were quite similar to those in human factor XIII, which causes fibers to crosslink and form clots.
Rittschof suspects that many other marine animals that rely on glue to get a grip may use the same polymerization mechanism.
The study has been published online in the Journal of Experimental Biology. (ANI)
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Tags: atomic force microscope, barnacle glue, barnacles, blood clots, boat hull, duke university, factor xiii, fuel consumption, hitchhikers, human blood, journal of experimental biology, marine animals, mass spectrometry, polymerization mechanism, prepared statement, protein sequences, scabs, serine proteases, trypsin, wound healing