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What is the strongest naturally occurring adhesive? © Science Photo Library

What is the strongest naturally occurring adhesive?

Asked by: John Williams

The unofficial record is held by a harmless bacterium that lives in all sorts of freshwater environments, including tap water. Caulobacter crescentus (pictured above) attaches to underwater surfaces via a stalk-like structure that has an ultra-sticky adhesive at its tip, made from the sugars glucose, mannose and xylose.

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According to measurements by US researchers, just one square centimetre of this natural glue could stick a 680kg weight (or a large cow) to a wet surface.

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Authors

Dr Emma Davies is a science writer and editor with a PhD in food chemistry from the University of Leeds. She writes about all aspects of chemistry, from food and the environment to toxicology and regulatory science.

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