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Investigation of Natural Adhesives
Adhesives are found in almost every aspect of the modern world. They are found in plywood used in buildings, electronics, shoes, plumbing and in almost every facet of your daily life. Nature also has an abundance of these adhesives that are used fora multitude of applications. Some animals, like the blue mussel, use their adhesive for protection against ocean waves and predators while other animals, such as the spider, use it to trap prey. Investigation of theses adhesives has led to the identification of several different proteins that allow for these animals to make their adhesive. Some of them are composed of rare amino acids that while other animals use a combination of inorganic and organic components. Understanding of these unique adhesives can be a boon for designof future adhesives that do not have the disadvantagesof current day commercialized glues.
Increasing interest in the restoration of natural oyster reefs and the cement that holds them together has resulted in the identification of the Shelk2 protein that is found both in the mantle of the oyster’s shell as well as the cement that holds the reefs together. Gaining an understanding of how this protein functions and its part in the oyster reef could be quite beneficial for projects investing in reef restorations as well as underwater adhesion. Gathering protein from the animal for experimentation and characterization can be labor intensive and extremely challenging. Luckily, cloning technology has become a useful tool for the expression of large quantities of proteins that can be difficult or impossible to gather from the native animal. Using E. coli, it is possible to design and express this protein in hopes of gaining a better understanding of its impact on oyster settlement and adhesion.
Sustainability is a major downside to current day adhesives that current technologies have not been able to solve. Most adhesives that are on the market today are primarily derived from petroleum. Current research has begun investigating alternatives to the large epoxy and formaldehyde adhesive market, but the barrier of entry is hard to overcome. To replace these glues the new material must be affordable, non-petroleum derived, and available on a massive scale. These requirements are hard to meet for many materials and due to that the current bio-adhesive are generally very low strength.
The work presented here will detail the characterization, and expression of some of these natural adhesives that have been found in the Eastern oyster. Another aspect of this work includes the synthesis of a new bio-based adhesive system. Utilizing biomimetic chemistry along with sustainably sourced materials a new adhesive has been formulated that has comparable adhesive strength to current day commercial adhesives.
- Doctor of Philosophy
- West Lafayette