Questions for Mimicking mussels' muscle

Dec 6, 2013 — 8:57 am EST



Before reading:

1. People use glue — do other animals? Can you think of a creature that sticks to something? How do you think it does that? Where would the glue they use come from?

2. Which animals do you think can hold onto their environments most strongly, and why?

During reading:

1. What’s a mussel? Why is its shell so important?

2. Describe two ways that mussels stick to wet surfaces.

3. How does being stretchy help something be strong?

4. Why do scientists think a mussel-like glue might work well on and in the human body?

5. Besides wet, what two other types of surfaces can mussels cling to?

6. About how many byssal fibers does one mussel need to stay put?

7. Describe how a mussel makes a byssal fiber. Why is flushing out the seawater from the tube an important step?

8. What is MFP-1 and where is it typically found?

9. Describe MFP-5 and where it’s typically found. How strong is it?

10. Biofilms that mussels cling to can be either hydrophilic or hydrophobic. What does that mean? And how do mussels respond to this difference?

11. Give three reasons why mussel-inspired glues might work well on surgeries performed on fetuses.

12. At what time of year are mussel fibers weakest? Why?

13. What other type of water condition weakens mussel fibers?

After reading:

1. Do byssal fibers last forever? What kind of problems might this pose when using mussel-inspired glues on and inside people?

2. Describe how mussels could be affected by warmer waters brought on by climate change.


1. Do you think the price of mussels (for eating) will go up or down as ocean waters warm globally? Explain your answer.

Further Reading

S. Perkins. Mimicking mussels' muscle. Science News for Students. December 6, 2013.