Secretion protects skin: hippopotamus
A secretion of the hippopotamus protects its skin from the sun and bacteria thanks to two pigments that absorb UV light and have antibiotic properties.
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"The efficient sunscreen activity of NH and HP stems from their broad absorption in the UVA and UVB regions of the spectrum." (Galasso and Pichierri 2009:2543)
"Although the fluid secreted by the hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) is not strictly sweat as it is produced by the subdermal glands, it acts like sweat in helping to control body temperature. It is also thought to be antiseptic…What is the function of these pigments as far as the hippopotamus is concerned? Their spectra in the ultraviolet/visible range (200–600 nm; see supplementary information) indicate that they may act as sunscreens. The red pigment 2 also has antibiotic activity: at concentrations lower than that found on the hippopotamus’s skin, it inhibits the growth of the pathogenic bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa A3 and Klebsiella pneumonia." (Saikawa et al. 2004:363)
Hippopotamus amphibius Linnaeus, 1758
Some organism data provided by: ITIS: The Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist
Application Ideas: This idea could be applied to building exteriors or clothing to trigger release of non-toxic, UV-protection compounds when there is excess sun exposure, but only to the extent required to prevent UV damage.
Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Construction
Yoko Saikawa Masaya Nakata
Faculty of Science and Technology, Keio University
Department of Chemical Sciences, University of Trieste