Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


UC scientific research into possibilities of NZ seaweed

UC scientific research looking to see if NZ coastline seaweed could be used as a glue


Simone-Dimartino


A University of Canterbury (UC) researcher is looking to see if New Zealand coastline seaweed could be used as inspiration to design a commercial wet-resistant glue.

Dr Simone Dimartino from UC’s Biomolecular Interaction Centre says preliminary experiments demonstrate that the kelp is effective in sticking to glass surfaces. Further tests will be carried out to see if seaweed can attach firmly to other surfaces such as plastic and metals.
``I was travelling around New Zealand two years ago. I was on the cliffs at Otago Peninsula when I noticed huge amounts of kelp continuously battered by big strong ocean waves. I instantly thought they must produce something really sticky not to be washed away. The idea was born to start researching kelp as source for a natural adhesive,’’ Dr Dimartino said today.

``The most remarkable thing is that the kelp attaches to the rocks underwater. Even the most impressive man-made adhesives fail when used underwater, while kelp has been doing it for millions of years. A wet resistant glue inspired by kelp could be used in aquatic environments with no risk of chemical pollution. For example it could be used by the Navy.

``But the major aim is to design a bio-compatible glue that could be used for one of the wettest systems in the world: the human body. Such glue could be used as an alternative to painful stitches or staples or help repair tissue tears or even bone fractures.’’

Dr Dimartino has been working in Kaikoura taking advantage of the UC field facility there. The Kaikoura Peninsula is rich in many kinds of seaweed and is a perfect place to get used to the marine environment. He also found Shag Point on the coast north of Dunedin an ideal place to collect samples.

Most research on the glue produced by marine organisms focuses on mussels and barnacles, very little on kelps. The few studies carried out vaguely conclude on the chemical composition of the glue and propose possible theories on the attachment strategies, but no definite conclusion has been given yet, he said.

``I use a special surface technique which helps me detect what kind of chemical constituents are present in the kelp glue and I should have the results by the end of next year. The real challenge will be to design a synthetic counterpart which can be produced in sufficient amounts for commercial use.’’

Kelp has a reproductive cycle which is strikingly similar to humans. When Dr Dimartino gets to the coast he selects male and female plants, releases eggs and sperm in the lab and then assists in their fertilisation and reproduction.

Dr Dimartino then follows the secretion of the glue and surface attachment which is crucial in the sea as newborn must firmly attach to a surface and avoid being washed away by the strong waves and tidal currents.

Preliminary experiments demonstrate that the kelp is effective in sticking to glass surfaces. Further tests will be carried out to see if the seaweed could attach firmly to other surfaces such as plastic and metals, with specific interest to materials currently used in biomedical implants.
ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Half Empty: Fonterra's 2017 Opening Forecast Below Expectations

Fonterra Cooperative Group raised its forecast farmgate milk payout for next season by less than expected as the world's largest dairy exporter predicts lower prices will crimp production and supply will pick up. The New Zealand dollar fell. More>>

ALSO:

Pest Control: Mouse Blitz Team Leaves For Antipodes

The Million Dollar Mouse project to rid Antipodes Island of mice is underway with the departure of a rodent eradication team to the remote nature reserve and World Heritage Area. More>>

Gongs Got: Canon Media Awards & NZ Radio Awards Happen

Radio NZ: RNZ website The Wireless, which is co-funded by NZ On Air, was named best website, while Toby Manhire and Toby Morris won the best opinion general writing section for their weekly column on rnz.co.nz and Tess McClure won the best junior feature writer section. More>>

ALSO:

Pre-Budget: Debt Focus Risks Losing Opportunity To Stoke Economy

The Treasury is likely to upgrade its forecasts for economic growth in Budget 2016 next week but Finance Minister Bill English has already signalled that more of his focus is on debt repayment than on fiscal stimulus or tax cuts... More>>

ALSO:

Fulton Hogan's Heroes: Managing Director Nick Miller Resigns

Fulton Hogan managing director Nick Miller will leave the privately owned construction company after seven years in charge. The Dunedin-based company has kicked off a search for a replacement, and Miller will stay on at the helm until March next year, or until a successor has been appointed and a transition period completed. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Electricity, Executions, And Bob Dylan

The Electricity Authority has unveiled the final version of its pricing plan for electricity transmission. This will change the way transmission prices (which comprise about 10% of the average power bill) are computed, and will add hundreds of dollars a year to power bills for many ordinary consumers. More>>

ALSO:

Half Empty: Fonterra NZ, Australia Milk Collection Drops In Season

Fonterra Cooperative Group says milk collection is down in New Zealand and Australia, its two largest markets, in the first 11 months of the season during a period of weak dairy prices. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news