Living With Caddisfly Glue

Caddisfly Jewelry

Caddisfly Jewelry
Artist: Hubert Duprat Photo:

Caddisfly larvae live underwater and build protective cases from solid materials such as rocks and sticks. The materials are glued together with silk. This activity occurs underwater. Therefore, the glue must be waterproof.  The silk is strong enough to hold together even heavy materials such as stones and jewels.

Biomedical engineers want adhesives that work in an aqueous environment, have sufficient strength to hold together tissues such as bone and are degradable into biologically inactive units. Scientists* have studied caddisfly silk and determined that the phosphoserines present in the silk protein are responsible for many desirable adhesive properties.  This knowledge has led chemists to successfully create polymers containing 2 to 5% phosphoserine that mimic the properties of caddisfly silk. The biomimetics have strength and adhesive properties that could be useful in medical applications.  With addition modification, the biomimetic caddisfly silk polymers could have uses in repairing broken bones and other orthopedic uses, and as scaffolds for spinal repair.

Our ability to synthesize new chemicals increased in sophisticated. Insect biomaterials are increasingly important as model compounds that suggest how to produce biomimetics with desired properties.

*Vrushali Bhagat, Emily O’Brien, Jinjun Zhou, and Matthew L. Becker. Caddisfly Inspired Phosphorylated Poly(ester urea)-Based Degradable Bone Adhesives. Biomacromolecules. July 12, 2016
DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.6b00875

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Living With Caddisfly Glue

  1. Pingback: Living With Caddisfly Glue – Entomo Planet

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