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Waterproof lipid-layer prevents desiccation: frogs


Northern Leopard Frog. Duluth, MN / heidi bakk-h.. / LicenseCC-by-nc - Attribution Non-commercial

The skin of terrestrial frogs protects from water loss via a waterproof, lipid-containing layer.

"Some species in the dry forests of South America secrete a waxy coating to protect themselves from drying out." (Morell 2001)

"The lipid contents of these organelles appear to consist of stacks of flattened lipid vesicles (Landmann, 1986, 1988) comprising primarily glycosphingolipids, free sterols and phospholipids, which are precursors of the stratum corneum lipids (Fig. 4). Eventually, the lipid contents of the organelles are secreted into the extracellular domain, where they are further processed into compact lipid bilayers that occlude the extracellular spaces among adjacent and overlapping corneocytes (Fig. 4), a condition that has been likened to a 'bricks-and-mortar' organization (Elias, 1983; Elias and Menon, 1991). It has been proposed that acylglucosylceramides serve as molecular 'rivets' to promote flattening and stacking of lipid vesicles that subsequently fuse edge-to-edge to produce lamellae comprising paired bilayers that are stacked parallel to the skin surface (Engström et al., 2000; Wertz, 2000). These form multiple lamellar sheets with smooth surfaces shown in freeze-fracture studies. In this manner, the extracellular lipids form a continuous domain throughout the stratum corneum and function as the principal barrier to water diffusion (Elias and Friend, 1975; Fig. 2)." (Lillywhite 2006:217)
About the inspiring organism

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Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Produce biodegradable food packaging. Water sealant, glue.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Food, manufacturing, building, packaging

Virginia Morell. 2001. The fragile world of frogs. National Geographic. 199(5): 106-23.
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