In nature, there are amazing creatures: such as the sponges. These sea creatures form their skeleton from so-called spicula. These are spiky things made of spongy - a protein that resembles collagen - or they are made of calcium carbonate or silica. From Spongin and silica produce the Hornkieselschwämme (Demospongiae) their skeleton. Inside, tiny structures of symmetrically arranged skeletal needles grow. The sponge Geodia cydonium from the genus Demospongiae produces small stars, as seen in the picture above. What researchers did not know until now: What in the body of sponges stimulates the growth of this glass-like framework? This secret has now come a team from the Technical University of Dresden on the track. In the case of the demospongiae, they were able to determine which protein causes the genesis of the cleanly symmetrically arranged skeletal needles. "The study addresses the fundamental question of how nature creates complex and regular structures, " says Igor Zlotnikov, co-author of the study, published in Science Advances. "Learning from nature can help us create new and technologically important nanomaterials."
Photo: Zlotnikov Group, B CUBE, TU Dresden© science.de - Ruth Roebuck / Karin Schlott