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


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.

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Shocking Dairy Footage: MPI Failing Our Animals And Damaging Our Reputation

Greens “Nathan Guy needs to urgently look into how his ministry is enforcing animal welfare standards, how these appalling incidents happened under its watch and what it’s going to do prevent similar incidents happening again in the future." More>>


Land & Water Forum: Fourth Report On Water Management

The Land and Water Forum (LWF) today published its fourth report, outlining 60 new consensus recommendations for how New Zealand should improve its management of fresh water and calling on the Government to urgently adopt all of its recommendations from earlier reports. More>>



Welcome Home: Record High Migration Stokes 41-Year High Population Growth

New Zealand annual net migration hit a new high in October as more people arrived from than departed for Australia for the first time in more than 20 years. More>>


Citizens' Advice Bureau: Report Shows Desperate Housing Situation Throughout NZ

CAB's in-depth analysis of over 2000 client enquiries about emergency accommodation shows vulnerable families, pregnant women and children living in cars and garages, even after seeking assistance from the Ministry of Social Development and Housing New Zealand. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news