Anton Mather with some seaweed (image: University of Canterbury)
Commercial glues often fail when used underwater, but Anton Mather from the University of Canterbury is testing New Zealand coastline seaweed to see if a naturally inspired adhesive can be developed.
In particular, Anton is looking at the adhesive created by newborn Durvillaea antarctica and Hormosira banksii. Using a flow channel, he is examining the adhesion of cells across different substrates, including glass, polished stainless steel and unpolished stainless steel. He explains to Ruth Beran how he creates the baby kelp, and that he has found that a settling time of twelve hours post-fertilisation is needed before the newborn seaweed really sticks. In the future he hopes to use enzymes to analyse the composition of the seaweed glue and discover which elements are responsible for adhesion.