Learning from Oysters: Not One, but Two Adhesives

Posted on 7/11/2018 11:00:00 PM By ASC

Oyster adhesives have long held the manmade adhesives industry in awe. But now researchers say that the mollusks aren’t limited to only one kind of bio-glue. They make two distinctively different types of adhesive based on specific periods in their lifecycle.

Oyster larvae are microscopically small, and their purpose is to find a substrate to which they can attach themselves for the duration of their lifespans. Once they have found a suitable spot, they extend a tiny “foot” which begins to secrete an organic, hydrated material that attaches them to their new home.


However, the adhesive chemistry doesn’t end there. Within 48 hours, the larvae begin to change into juveniles, and this time, a new adhesive is produced between the oysters’ shells. This second-stage adhesive is 85 percent calcium carbonate, and it’s the adhesive that bonds oysters together into colonies.

The researchers responsible for the discovery at Purdue University say they hope their work will result in new insights that will help with reef restoration and the development of new underwater adhesives that mimic nature.