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

 

Restrictions Lifted: No Further Tau Flies Found

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms that all restrictions on the movement of fruit and vegetables in Manurewa, Auckland, due to the Tau fly, have been lifted as of 2.26pm on Sunday 7 February. More>>

Crowdfinding: Awaroa Beach To Become Public Land If Appeal Succeeds

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says a privately-owned beach will become part of the Abel Tasman National Park if an online crowdfunding campaign to buy it succeeds... More>>

ALSO:

Meat Workers Union: Waitangi Mondayisation Flaunted By Large Employer Of Maori

At the AFFCO Talley owned meat plant in Rangiuru, the company has resorted to bullying and threats... saying they could be disciplined and their union sued for an unlawful strike if workers exercise their rights to a paid day off tomorrow. More>>

Earlier:

ETS Review: Modelling Documents Released

Three technical documents are being released to help New Zealanders engage with the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) review, Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett says. More>>

ALSO:

Northland: Govt Plan Targets Transport, Web, Maori Assets

The government has released a 10-year plan to attract investors and lift economic growth in Northland, a region that perennially underperforms the rest of the country even while being endowed with natural beauty, productive land, minerals, a potential workforce, scope for manufacturing, forestry and aquaculture, and proximity to Auckland. More>>

ALSO:

Statistics: Unemployment Rate Falls To 5.3 Percent

The unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent in the December 2015 quarter (from 6.0 percent), Statistics New Zealand said today. This is the lowest unemployment rate since March 2009. There were 16,000 fewer people unemployed than in the September ... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news