How does hagfish slime get its incredible clogging ability?

How does hagfish slime get its incredible clogging ability?

Pacific hagfish is an eel-like creature

Gina Kelly/Alamy

Hagfish produce copious slime when attacked, which suffocates the predators’ gills in a sticky net. Scientists now know that mucus performs a crucial function in hagfish slime’s distinctive clogging capacity, and the fibrous threads maintain the slime from flowing away.

Eel-like hagfish secrete fibrous protein filaments and mucus bundles from glands that run all through their our bodies inside half a second of being provoked. The threads unfold into an intricate knot and mix with mucus, turning seawater right into a thick sticky substance.

“There are spider silk-like fibers operating throughout it that give it this power and sturdiness that’s completely stunning and stunning,” he says. Douglas Fudge at Chapman College in California. “Slim is nice.”

To check the clogging power of Pacific hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii) slime, Fudge and colleagues made a particular slime sieve. They dissolved the Slime in water and recorded its weight over time because the water flowed from the holes beneath; the slower the circulate, the upper the blocking energy.

Subsequent, they in contrast the drainage charge of hagfish slime to that of three different widespread thickening brokers at numerous concentrations: psyllium husk, xanthan gum, and polyethylene oxide (PEO). Hagfish slime was two to 3 occasions higher at clogging by weight than its rivals. About 35 milligrams of slime per liter of water offered most clogging.

“The stunning end result was: [other thickeners] performance-wise, they’re nowhere close to what hagfish slime does,” says Fudge.

When the workforce eliminated threads from the snot within the lab, they had been shocked to seek out that their gagging talents had been preserved. “Mucus actually does the heavy lifting on the subject of occlusion efficiency,” says Fudge. This made me marvel why the hagfish slime has the thread.

In an identical follow-up experiment, the workforce washed solely mucus-containing hagfish slime with seawater. At first, the slime was trapped within the sieve, however extra bursts of water shortly washed it away. After they tried once more with the slime, which contained each mucus and threads, the slime was left mendacity round for greater than a dozen spurts of seawater. “We expect the strings are there to carry the slime in place and stop the mucus from dispersing,” says Fudge.

“It is stunning how nicely the mucus occludes, even within the absence of threads,” she says. Sarah Schorno On the College of Guelph in Canada, which was not concerned within the examine. “Nice, high-quality science.”

Fudge hopes these insights into hagfish slime will carry scientists nearer to growing artificial options to super-strong goo that may very well be utilized in bandages, clothes and army protection.


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