Escapin: Anti-Bacterial Sea Slug Protein Prevents Biofilm Build-Up

Escapin, an anti-bacterial protein found in the ink of the common Aplysia sea slug, could form the basis of new compounds to prevent the formation of biofilms on ship hulls, fishing traps and nets. The Aplysia sea slug is sometimes called the "sea hare."

(From the Sea Slug Forum)

Environmentally friendly alternatives to heavy metals like copper, which are commonly applied to marine materials to prevent biofilm development, are being sought as concern over the health of the seas deepens. Biofilm is a precursor to the growth of barnacles and other organisms; seamen have spent weary lifetimes scraping them off. Why scrape barnacles off the bottom of a ship? Because they greatly increase drag - which in turn increases the amount of oil burned to push the ship through the water.

The genetic sequence of Escapin was identified by a Center for Behavioral Neuroscience research team led by Charles Derby, biologist at Georgia State University.

This problem has also been addressed in sf. Bruce Sterling wrote about inert resin in his 1988 novel Islands in the Net. In the golden age of science fiction, all of the equipment was antiseptically clean and brand new. As time passed, a gritty realism prevailed; everything in movies like Aliens and Blade Runner (for example) is worn and dirty. Inert resin is one example of technologies that keep the science fiction world realistic, but clean. See the original press release Genetic sequence identified for anti-bacterial sea slug protein.

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