A common aquatic microbe makes a sticky substance that produces "the strongest biological adhesion ever discovered," says biophysicist Jay X. Tang of Brown University in Providence, R.I. The adhesive might lead scientists to new water-resistant glues.
The bacterium Caulobacter crescentus begins its life as a mobile, tail-sporting cell. As it matures, it loses its tail, or flagellum, and replaces it with a stalk that it uses to attach to rocks or other surfaces. The tip of the stalk secretes an adhesive made of sugars and proteins.
Tang and his colleagues measured the strength of the adhesive, which scientists call holdfast. They grew the microbe on a thin, flexible micropipette,