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Liquid crystal forms byssal threads: Mediterranean mussel

Byssal threads of marine mussels form quickly via liquid crystal phase proteins.

"In marine mussels (Mytilus), byssal threads are made in minutes from prefabricated smectic polymer liquid crystals by a process resembling reaction injection molding. The mesogens in these arrays are known to be natural block copolymers with rodlike collagen cores." (Hassenkam et al. 2004:1351)
About the inspiring organism
Mediterranean mussel
Mytilus galloprovincialis Lamarck, 1819
Common name: Mediterranean mussel

Learn more at
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

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Liquid crystal process for template building materials: ropes, bridge spans, textile, computer monitors, energy capture, energy transfer

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Manufacturing, electronics, energy

Waite Research Lab
Herbert Waite
Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California Santa Barbara
Hassenkam, T.; Gutsmann, T.; Hansma, P.; Sagert, J.; Waite, J. H. 2004. Giant Bent-Core Mesogens in the Thread Forming Process of Marine Mussels. Biomacromolecules. 5(4): 1351-1355.
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Lee H; Dellatore SM; Miller WM; Messersmith PB. 2007. Mussel-Inspired Surface Chemistry for Multifunctional Coatings. Science. 318(5849): 426.
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