Materials Science and Engineering C


Biological material
Functional surface
Van der Waals forces
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Gabriela Rabelo Andrade, João Locke Ferreira de Araújo, Arnaldo Nakamura Filho, Anna Carolina Paganini Guañabens, Marcela David de Carvalho, Antonio Valadão Cardoso

In this study we characterized the surface morphology and ultrastructure of the foot of the golden mussel, Limnoperna fortunei (Dunker, 1857), relating its characteristics to the attaching mechanisms of this mollusk. The observation of the foot of this bivalve reveals the presence of micro-scaled cilia with a unique shape, which has a narrowing at its end. This characteristic was associated to the capacity for underwater adhesion to substrates through the employment of van der Waals forces, resembling the adhesion phenomenon of the gecko foot. The temporary attachment during locomotion by means of the foot to substrates was observed to be strong even on smooth surfaces, like glass, or hydrophobic waxy surfaces. Comparing TEM and light microscopy results it was possible to associate the mucous secretions and secreting cells found along the tissues to the production of the byssus inside the groove on the ventral portion of the foot. Not only our experiments, but also the state of the art allowed us to discard the involvement of secretions produced in the foot of the mussel to the temporary adhesion. Through SEM images it was possible to build a virtual three-dimensional model where total foot surface was measured for the estimated calculation of van der Waals forces. Also, some theoretical analysis and considerations have been made concerning the characteristics of the functional surface of L. fortunei foot.