Marine bioinorganic materials: mussels pumping iron

Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2010 Apr;14(2):276-83. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2009.11.009. Epub 2009 Dec 28.


The oceans are filled with an amazing variety of biological materials including the glues and cements of mussels, barnacles, tube worms, algae, and starfish. Recent studies on mussel adhesive are providing increasing evidence for a unique mechanism of material generation involving iron-induced protein oxidation and cross-linking chemistry. Insights are also being gathered on many of the other marine creatures producing adhesives. Beyond understanding biology, this growing knowledge is inspiring application development. New classes of biomimetic polymers are poised to provide the next generation of surgical adhesives and orthopedic cements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adhesives / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Biomimetics
  • Bivalvia / metabolism*
  • Dihydroxyphenylalanine / metabolism
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Proteins / metabolism


  • Adhesives
  • Proteins
  • Dihydroxyphenylalanine
  • Iron