This mussel-inspired glue might be the best underwater adhesive

Scientists have found a way to improve underwater adhesives by taking inspiration from byssal threads of mussels.
Interesting Engineering

We all probably know the quote: “Mother knows best.” No offense to fathers but this is actually true, as we will now be referring to mother nature in this feature. 

Some of the best inspirations can be seen in nature. Biomimicry has proven that we humans tend to find inspiration from nature in developing things. This is because nature has its ways of showing how evolution is an integral part of the survival of a species. 

Spiders have webs that can catch prey. Woodpeckers’ physiology allows them to withstand heavy forces while pecking wood. These are just some examples of how nature shows us things that we copy or use for inspiration in the development of the things we use. 

Now, let’s take a look at another one of nature’s creatures that inspires humans to create or develop new things - mussels. 

Initially, you might think it's because mussels are seafood but here, we would be looking at their ability to stick to rock surfaces. This is because the way they stick to rocks is quite strong in order for them to withstand ocean waves and predators. 

The strong attachment of mussels to rock surfaces is made possible because of their glue or their byssal threads. With the help of other proteins including dopa and lysine, mussels are able to create an adhesive that allows them to stick even underwater. 

From here, one might think that the glue of the mussels can be harvested and turned into a waterproof glue product. Unfortunately, that’s not the case as the glue of the mussels is produced in minuscule amounts. Harvesting this glue would take a lot of time and is not actually sustainable to make a commercial product. 

With humans being fond of biomimicry, researchers were actually inspired to create a synthetic polymer by mimicking the byssal thread of mussels. This allowed the creation of a glue that works underwater and is non-toxic. This development was so impressive that it even became a finalist in the   2021 Ray of Hope Prize for nature-inspired startups. 

This mussel-inspired glue would actually be something to look forward to if it continues to develop. Its non-toxic nature would then allow it to be used in numerous things such as in coral restoration efforts or even in medicine. 

Mother nature has once again proven herself in being the best by having mussels act as an inspiration in the development of a strong, waterproof glue that is non-toxic. What do you think would be the other things in the future that would be inspired by nature?