Capsular Bioelastomers of Whelks

  • Hermann Ehrlich
Part of the Biologically-Inspired Systems book series (BISY, volume 13)


Diverse whelks which represent a group of marine caenogastropod snails localize their embryos in unique biocomposite-based egg capsules. These multilaminate and capsular proteins-containing constructs are highly resilient. Capsular protein possesses comprehensive flexibility with ability to fast recovery which is proved by the decrease in the magnitude of elastic modulus (seeming damage) which starts at 3–5% strain. Take into consideration of the mechanical reaction to strain, this material is dissimilar to typical elastomeric proteins such as elastin or collagen. It is suggested that capsular elastomers possess high biomimetic potential for design and development of novel artificial hybrid materials.


  1. Brante A (2006) An alternative mechanism to reduce intracapsular hypoxia in ovicapsules of Fusitriton oregonensis (Gastropoda). Mar Biol (Berl) 149:269–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Corbett CM (2006) The mystery of the whelk egg capsule protein – electrospinning, mechanical testing and being outsmarted by an invertebrate. PhD thesis. The University of British ColumbiaGoogle Scholar
  3. Cronin ER, Seymour RS (2000) Respiration of the eggs of the giant cuttlefish Sepia apama. Mar Biol (Berl) 136:863–870CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fischer FD, Harrington MJ, Fratzl P (2013) Thermodynamic modelling of a phase transformation in protein filaments with mechanical function. New J Phys 15:2–15Google Scholar
  5. Flower NE, Geddes AJ, Rudall KM (1969) Ultrastructure of the fibrous protein from the egg capsules of the whelk Buccinum undatum. J Ultrastruct Res 26(3–4):262–273.
  6. Fretter V, Graham A (1994) British prosobranch molluscs. Their functional anatomy and ecology. Ray Society, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Gathercole L (1969) Studies on the protein of the egg capsule of whelks. PhD Thesis. University of LeedsGoogle Scholar
  8. Goldsmith LA, Hanigan HM, Thorpe JM et al (1978) Nidamental gland precursor of the egg capsule protein of the gastropod mollusc Busycon carica. Comp Biochem Physiol 59B:133–138Google Scholar
  9. Gutowska MA, Melzner F (2009) Abiotic conditions in cephalopod (Sepia officinalis) eggs: embryonic development at low pH and high pCO2. Mar Biol 156:515–519CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Harrington MJ, Wasko SS, Masic A et al (2012) Pseudoelastic behaviour of a natural material is achieved via reversible changes in protein backbone conformation. J R Soc Interface 9(76):2911–2922CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hunt S (1966) Carbohydrate and amino-acid composition of the egg capsule of the whelk Buccinum undatum L. Nature 210:436–437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kazakevičiutè-Makovska R, Steeb H (2011) Superelasticity and self-healing of proteinaceous biomaterials. Procedia Eng 10:2597–25602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Miserez A, Wasko SS, Carpenter CF et al (2009) Non-entropic and reversible long-range deformation of an encapsulating bioelastomer. Nat Mater 8:910–916CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ojeda JA, Chaparro OR (2004) Morphological, gravimetric, and biochemical changes in Crepidula fecunda (Gastropoda: Calyptraeidae) egg capsule walls during embryonic development. Mar Biol 144:263–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Pechenick JA (1979) Role of encapsulation in invertebrate life histories. Am Nat 114:859–870CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Price NR, Hunt S (1973) Studies of the cross linking regions of whelk egg capsule proteins. Biochem Soc Trans 1:158–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Price NR, Hunt S (1974) Fluorescent chromophore components from the egg capsules of the gastropod mollusc Buccinum undatum (L.), and their relation to fluorescent compounds in other structural proteins. Comp Biochem Physiol 47B:601–616Google Scholar
  18. Rapoport HS (2003) Biomechanics, biochemistry, and molecular biology of a molluscan scleroprotein elastomer: whelk egg capsules. PhD thesis. University of California, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  19. Rapoport HS, Shadwick RE (2000) Investigations into the selfhealing behavior of whelk egg capsule biomaterial, genus Busycon. Comp Biochem Physiol 126B(Suppl.1):S81Google Scholar
  20. Rapoport HS, Shadwick RE (2001) A keratin-like gastropod biomaterial used to clarify the mechanical models of keratin. Am Zool 41:1563Google Scholar
  21. Rapoport HS, Shadwick RE (2002) Mechanical characterization of an unusual elastic biomaterial from the egg capsules of marine snails (Busycon spp.). Biomacromolecules 3:42–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rapoport HS, Shadwick RE (2007) Reversibly labile, sclerotization-induced elastic properties in a keratin analog from marine snails: whelk egg capsule biopolymer (WECB). J Exp Biol 210:12–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rudall KM (1968) Intracellular fibrous proteins and the keratins. In: Florkin M, Stotz EH (eds) Comprehensive biochemistry, vol. 26B. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  24. Tamarin A, Carriker M (1967) The egg capsule of the Muricid gastropod Urosalpinx cinerea: an integrated study of the wall by ordinary light, polarized light, and electron microscopy. J Ultrastruct Res 21:26–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Wasko SS, Tay G, Schwaighofer A et al (2014) Structural proteins from whelk egg capsule with long range elasticity associated with a solid-state phase transition. Biomacromolecules 15(1):30–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hermann Ehrlich
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Electronic and Sensor MaterialsTU Bergakademie FreibergFreibergGermany

Personalised recommendations