Mingjun Zhang of the Nano Biosystems and Bio-mimetics Lab at the University of Tennessee is studying the adhesive properties of sundew plants on the nanoscale, which may lead to improvements in medical replacement operations such as hip replacements. In a paper published in the Journal of Nanobiotechnology, Zhang's group reported that the naturally occurring nanofibers and nanoparticles from the secreted adhesive of the sundew show a high compatibility for attaching cells.
The sundew's adhesive has remarkable elasticity, stretching to 1 million times its normal size (most rubber bands can only stretch to six times their original size). Such elasticity would make the adhesive dew secreted from the plant an effective choice for coating replacement body parts, regenerating dying tissues, healing wounds and improving synthetic adhesives. It is also economical--it's so sticky and elastic that less than a microliter (smaller than the period at the end of a sentence) would cover 25 millimeters squared (or the size of George Washington's face on a dollar bill). Zhang's research was supported in part by grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) (CMMI 10-29953 and CBET 09-65877).
To learn more about this research, see the NSF Discovery story from October 2011, The Nanotechnology of Sundew and English Ivy. (Date of Image: 2010)
Credit: Pelagie Favi, Samantha Tracht, University of Tennessee