Caddisfly Larva Image 1
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Caddisfly Larva (Image 1)

July 30, 2010
A caddisfly larva. The larva builds and carries its own underwater shelter case using ribbons of natural sticky silk to stitch together grains of sand and rock (see right rear of photo). But when placed in a lab aquarium with glass beads instead of sand grains, the larva uses its wet silk to add beads to its shelter case (see center of photo).

Russell Stewart, an associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Utah, is principal investigator of a study on the chemical and structural properties of caddisfly silk that was funded by the National Science Foundation (grant DMR 09-06014). He has characterized the caddisfly's wet adhesive silk and hopes to develop a synthetic version that could be used as a surgical adhesive in surgery.

Working in his lab, Stewart, who studied the caddisfly species B. echo from the lower Provo River, Utah, discovered that caddisfly adhesive can bond to a wide range of surfaces underwater, including hard and soft and organic and inorganic. Such adhesion could be used on a wide range of tissue types in the medical field.

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