PerspectiveMaterials Science

Holding On by a Hard-Shell Thread

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Science  09 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5975, pp. 180-181
DOI: 10.1126/science.1187598

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Mussels anchor to surfaces in turbulent aqueous environments with a remarkable acellular tissue, the byssus, or “beard.” The threadlike byssal attachments are strong yet highly extensible, and have a thin cuticle coat that is harder than the core of the thread itself. On page 216 of this issue, Harrington et al. (1) present results that show how the chemistry of byssal thread cuticle may impart these distinctive mechanical properties.