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Biomimetic generation of the strongest known biomaterial found in limpet tooth

Rumney, R. M. H., Robson, S. C., Kao, A. P. , Barbu, E., Bozycki, L., Smith, J. R., Cragg, S. M., Couceiro, F., Parwani, R., Tozzi, G., Stuer, M., Barber, A. H. ORCID: 0000-0003-3334-0266, Ford, A. T. & Gorecki, D. C. (2022). Biomimetic generation of the strongest known biomaterial found in limpet tooth. Nature Communications, 13(1), article number 3753. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-31139-0


The biomaterial with the highest known tensile strength is a unique composite of chitin and goethite (α-FeO(OH)) present in teeth from the Common Limpet (Patella vulgata). A biomimetic based on limpet tooth, with corresponding high-performance mechanical properties is highly desirable. Here we report on the replication of limpet tooth developmental processes ex vivo, where isolated limpet tissue and cells in culture generate new biomimetic structures. Transcriptomic analysis of each developmental stage of the radula, the organ from which limpet teeth originate, identifies sequential changes in expression of genes related to chitin and iron processing. We quantify iron and chitin metabolic processes in the radula and grow isolated radula cells in vitro. Bioinspired material can be developed with electrospun chitin mineralised by conditioned media from cultured radula cells. Our results inform molecular processes behind the generation of limpet tooth and establish a platform for development of a novel biomimetic with comparable properties.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
SWORD Depositor:
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