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Mucus enhances mobility: polychaete worm


Phyllodoce mucosa / Hans Hillewa.. / LicenseCC-by-sa - Attribution Share Alike

Polychaete worms travel quickly on trails of mucus.

"Phyllodoce mucosa is attracted in large numbers by dead mollusks, crabs or worms on the sediment surface. Within 10 s worms emerged to the surface, crawled as far as 15 m on mucus trails towards the carcass, sucked in tissue up to one-third of their own weight, and then quickly retreated to below the surface

"P. mucosa massively secretes mucus when crawling, and conspecifics tend to follow existing trails, sometimes forming 'roads' with several parallel trails directed towards a carcass. No interference between worms aggregating at a common food source was observed

"Presumably, P. mucosa gets some protection from the mucus it produces in masses

"High crawling speed, mucus trailing (as a mutual benefit to conspecifics leading to the food source) and the ability to locate a carcass from a distance, all may contribute to the success of P. mucosa as a carrion-feeder." (Lee et al. 2004:575-582)
About the inspiring organism
Med_phyllodoce_mucosa Phyllodoce mucosa
Phyllodoce mucosa Oersted

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: Products preventing abrasion - clothing, shoes, gloves, buildings, vehicle paint. Bio-lubricants for machinery, engines, public transportation systems, prostheses. Materials that serve multiple purposes.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Building, packaging, apparel, manufacturing, product development, automotive, transportation, health

Division of Coastal Ecology
Dr. Karsten Reise
Alfred Wegener Institute
Lee CG; Huettel M; Hong JS; Reise K. 2004. Carrion-feeding on the sediment surface at nocturnal low tides by the polychaete Phyllodoce mucosa. Marine Biology. 145(3): 575-583.
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