May 17, 2022

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We finally know how the nightmare bloodworm grows fangs made of metal

We finally know how the nightmare bloodworm grows fangs made of metal

Bloodworms are not for the faint of heart. These fleshy-looking marine tubes may look innocuous from a distance, but don’t be fooled.

Bloodworms (also known as “hairworms” of the genus glycera) are carnivores that burrow deep in the mud along the sea floor, emerging to capture prey and competitors in their fearsome jaws made partly of copper – and filled with paralyzing venom.

Even scientists who study these creatures for a living do not talk too much about bloodworms.

“These are very loathsome worms in that they are bad-tempered and easily provoked,” Says Biochemist Herbert White of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“When they encounter another worm, they usually fight using their brass jaws as weapons.”

Close-up of a bloodworm’s tusk. (Herbert White/CC BY-SA)

at New study Led by first author William Wonderley, a graduate student at White Lab Researchers have investigated how bloodworm species work Glycera dibranchiata Copper is acquired in his jaw, which makes up about 10 percent of the overall structure of the jaw, the rest being made up of protein and melanin.

that it Already observed The combination of copper and melanin in the jaws of the bloodworm gives the canines great resistance to abrasion, which helps the teeth last the animal’s lifespan of about five years.

In the new research, the team dissected bloodworms, analyzed jaw tissue, and studied cultured cells in the laboratoryIdentification of the structural protein that helps these different chemical components assemble with great success.

The researchers suggest that the protein in question – called the multitasking protein (MTP) – is highly effective, and could help determine the path to new material manufacturing processes.

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“We never expected a protein with such a simple structure, consisting mostly of glycine and histidine, to perform so many unrelated functions and activities,” Witt says.

“These materials could be road signs for how to make and engineer better consumer materials.”

According to the researchers, MTP performs many chemical roles in the end-to-end jaw production process.

This includes binding copper (harvested from marine sediments), stimulating melanin formation, acting as a regulator and plant, and synthesizing the resulting mixture of protein, copper, and melanin that forms the jaws of the bloodworm’s proboscis.

The researchers say it’s a massive trick, and requires a lot of work and different equipment to replicate in a lab setting, using conventional equipment.

If we can figure out how to replicate it, though — in some way harnessing natural MTP or mimicking similar chemical functions — it could be a huge step forward in materials science.

“Coordinated activities of the medium-term plan in the construction of glycera Jaw architecture presents a compelling opportunity to rethink the design of processing technologies necessary for sustainable, high-performance composite and blended polymeric materials.” The researchers write in their paper.

“The combination of chemical simplicity and functional versatility in MTP holds tremendous potential for processing materials inspired by nature and nature.”

It’s amazing to think that all this ingenuity somehow developed inside the mouth of a bloodworm. Maybe they aren’t that bad after all.

“You have a little worm that makes jaws that are hard and hard like bronze, and some ceramic as well,” White said. new world. “And they do it independently.”

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The results are reported in Theme.