Nanoscale Mechanical Characterisation of Amyloid Fibrils Discovered in a Natural Adhesive
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Using the atomic force microscope, we have investigated the nanoscale mechanical response of the attachment adhesive of the terrestrial alga Prasiola linearis (Prasiolales, Chlorophyta). We were able to locate and extend highly ordered mechanical structures directly from the natural adhesive matrix of the living plant. The in vivo mechanical response of the structured biopolymer often displayed the repetitive sawtooth force-extension characteristics of a material exhibiting high mechanical strength at the molecular level. Mechanical and histological evidence leads us to propose a mechanism for mechanical strength in our sample based on amyloid fibrils. These proteinaceous, pleated β-sheet complexes are usually associated with neurodegenerative diseases. However, we now conclude that the amyloid protein quaternary structures detected in our material should be considered as a possible generic mechanism for mechanical strength in natural adhesives.
Key wordsamyloid natural adhesive atomic force microscopy adhesion nanoscale mechanics force measurements extracellular polymeric substances algae biopolymer
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