Mistletoe eyed as source of natural glue

June 20, 2022 |

In Quebec, researchers at McGill University are looking into the potential of mistletoe to provide a natural source of glue. 

Generally known for the Christmas kiss tradition, mistletoe viscin, a sticky thread that allows its parasitic seeds to stick to other plants. 

The research began after Matthew Harrington—an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at McGill University working on nature-based adhesives and bioinspired materials—visited Germany and noticed mistletoe bought at the local Christmas market was sticking to things. “I was intrigued,” he says. “The fact that viscin can adhere to both wood and skin or feathers, may be relevant evolutionarily speaking,” he adds. “But it’s harder to explain adherence to various synthetic surfaces, such as plastics, glass and metal alloys, from an adaptive point of view. So viscin may simply represent a highly versatile adhesion chemistry, which is what makes it so interesting to explore what is going on chemically.”

Harrington and colleagues are now working to better understand viscin chemistry. 

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Category: Chemicals & Materials

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