Holdfast of aquatic bacterium adheres under water using powerful adhesive.

“‘It’s three to four times stronger than superglue,’ says Indiana University bacteriologist Yves Brun. Its strong enough, he adds, that a quarter-size patch could conceivably suspend a 5-ton elephant. In quantitative terms, the sticking power of the bacterium’s adhesive approaches 70 Newton/mm2, reports Brun, Brown University biophysicist Jay X. Tang, and their coworkers. The Caulobacter crescentus cells of the study are everywhere in aquatic settings. In one of their two forms, they grow stalks capped with a footlike structure known as a holdfast. There, an adhesive concoction, based in part on polysaccharides of N-acetylglucosamine, enables the cell to stick to surfaces. Once in place, the ‘stalk’ cells bud off a series of mobile ‘swarmer cells’ that seek out their own little dots of real estate, to which they stick by growing their own stalks and holdfasts.” (Amato 2006:8)

Last Updated August 18, 2016