Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Stickiest bacteria in the world

Bacteria found on the inside of water pipes secrete the strongest glue discovered in nature. Researchers found that the bacteria Caulobacter crescentus is a harmless bacterium that lives in rivers, streams and water pipes. It attaches itself to surfaces with a long, slender stalk tipped with chains of sugar molecules that are three times as strong as commercial 'superglue' products. It can withstand a force equivalent to five tons per square inch - (imagine the pressure exerted by three or four cars balanced on a UK pound coin).

The adhesive would (theoretically) make an excellent waterproof, biodegradable glue to replace sutures and staples in surgery. One of the main challenges will be to find a way to manufacture the glue without it sticking to everything that is used to produce it!

The findings appear in the April 11 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Brun co-authored the research with Jay Tang, a former IU physicist who now works at Brown University.

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