Tube-like shelters of sandcastle worms are constructed from mineral particles using an underwater, quick-set glue.

Edit Hook

“Phragmatopoma californica, also called the Sandcastle worm, is a polychaete…which lives in intertidal zones off the coast of California. The worm deploys a crown of ciliated tentacles for capturing and transporting food and particulates from the water column to its mouth where the captured materials are evaluated with ciliated lips. Food is ingested, unsuitable particles are cast away, while particles judged to be of the right size, shape, composition, and surface chemistry for incorporation into the tube are passed to a pair of dexterous palps, the so-called building organ, located immediately ventral to the mouth. Two minute spots of proteinaceous adhesive are applied before the particles are pressed into place by the building organ onto the end of the tube. The worm wriggles the newly placed particles until the adhesive sets, which takes less than 30 s under cold salty water [3].” (Endrizzi & Stewart 2009:547)

Watch video

Edit Summary


“The sandcastle worm Phragmatopoma californica, a marine polychaete,
constructs a tube-like shelter by cementing together sand grains using a
glue secreted from the building organ in its thorax. The glue is a
mixture of post-translationally modified proteins, notably the cement
proteins Pc-1 and Pc-2 with the amino acid,
3,4-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine (DOPA). Significant amounts of a
halogenated derivative of DOPA were isolated from the worm cement
following partial acid hydrolysis and capture of catecholic amino acids
by phenylboronate affinity chromatography. Analysis by tandem mass
spectrometry and 1H NMR indicates the DOPA derivative to be
2-chloro-4, 5-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine. The potential roles of
2-chloro-DOPA in chemical defense and underwater adhesion are
considered.” (Sun et al. 2009:126)

Journal article
Glueomics: An Expression Survey of the Adhesive Gland of the Sandcastle WormThe Journal of AdhesionAugust 14, 2009
Betsy J. Endrizzi, Russell J. Stewart

Journal article
Halogenated DOPA in a Marine Adhesive ProteinThe Journal of AdhesionApril 28, 2009
Cheng Jun Sun, Aasheesh Srivastava, Jack R. Reifert, J. Herbert Waite

Superglue from the sea

Journal article
A Water-Borne Adhesive Modeled after the Sandcastle Glue of P. californicaMacromol. Biosci.November 28, 2008
Hui Shao, Kent N. Bachus, Russell J. Stewart

Edit References

Learn More about the living system/s