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1.  Superhydrophobic surfaces of the water bug Notonecta glauca: a model for friction reduction and air retention 
Superhydrophobic surfaces of plants and animals are of great interest for biomimetic applications. Whereas the self-cleaning properties of superhydrophobic surfaces have been extensively investigated, their ability to retain an air film while submerged under water has not, in the past, received much attention. Nevertheless, air retaining surfaces are of great economic and ecological interest because an air film can reduce friction of solid bodies sliding through the water. This opens perspectives for biomimetic applications such as low friction fluid transport or friction reduction on ship hulls. For such applications the durability of the air film is most important. While the air film on most superhydrophobic surfaces usually lasts no longer than a few days, a few semi-aquatic plants and insects are able to hold an air film over a longer time period. Currently, we found high air film persistence under hydrostatic conditions for the elytra of the backswimmer Notonecta glauca which we therefore have chosen for further investigations. In this study, we compare the micro- and nanostructure of selected body parts (sternites, upper side of elytra, underside of elytra) in reference to their air retaining properties. Our investigations demonstrate outstanding air film persistence of the upper side of the elytra of Notonecta glauca under hydrostatic and hydrodynamic conditions. This hierarchically structured surface was able to hold a complete air film under hydrostatic conditions for longer than 130 days while on other body parts with simple structures the air film showed gaps (underside of elytra) or even vanished completely after a few days (sternites). Moreover, the upper side of the elytra was able to keep an air film up to flow velocities of 5 m/s. Obviously the complex surface structure with tiny dense microtrichia and two types of larger specially shaped setae is relevant for this outstanding ability. Besides high air film persistence, the observation of a considerable fluid velocity directly at the air–water interface indicates the ability to reduce friction significantly. The combination of these two abilities makes these hierarchically structured surfaces extremely interesting as a biomimetic model for low friction fluid transport or drag reduction on ship hulls.
PMCID: PMC3148060  PMID: 21977425
air film; aquatic insects; backswimmer; drag reduction; superhydrophobic surfaces
2.  Under-water superoleophobicity of fish scales 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:7454.
Recent surge in the development of superhydrophobic/superoleophobic surfaces has been motivated by surfaces like fish scales that have hierarchical structures, which are believed to promote water or oil repellency. In this work, we show that the under-water oil repellency of fish scales is entirely due to the mucus layer formation as part of its defense mechanism, which produces unprecedented contact angle close to 180°. We have identified the distinct chemical signatures that are responsible for such large contact angle, thereby making fish scale behave highly superoleophobic inside the water medium. In absence of the mucus layer, it is found that the contact angle decreases quite dramatically to around 150°, making it less oleophobic, the degree of such oleophobicity can then be contributed to its inherent hierarchical structures. Hence, through this systematic study, for the first time we have conclusively shown the role of the fish's mucus layer to generate superoleophobicity and negate the common notion that hierarchical structure is the only reason for such intrinsic behavior of the fish scales.
PMCID: PMC4264028  PMID: 25503502
3.  Hierarchically structured superhydrophobic flowers with low hysteresis of the wild pansy (Viola tricolor) – new design principles for biomimetic materials 
Hierarchically structured flower leaves (petals) of many plants are superhydrophobic, but water droplets do not roll-off when the surfaces are tilted. On such surfaces water droplets are in the “Cassie impregnating wetting state”, which is also known as the “petal effect”. By analyzing the petal surfaces of different species, we discovered interesting new wetting characteristics of the surface of the flower of the wild pansy (Viola tricolor). This surface is superhydrophobic with a static contact angle of 169° and very low hysteresis, i.e., the petal effect does not exist and water droplets roll-off as from a lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) leaf. However, the surface of the wild pansy petal does not possess the wax crystals of the lotus leaf. Its petals exhibit high cone-shaped cells (average size 40 µm) with a high aspect ratio (2.1) and a very fine cuticular folding (width 260 nm) on top. The applied water droplets are in the Cassie–Baxter wetting state and roll-off at inclination angles below 5°. Fabricated hydrophobic polymer replicas of the wild pansy were prepared in an easy two-step moulding process and possess the same wetting characteristics as the original flowers. In this work we present a technical surface with a new superhydrophobic, low adhesive surface design, which combines the hierarchical structuring of petals with a wetting behavior similar to that of the lotus leaf.
PMCID: PMC3148064  PMID: 21977435
anti-adhesive; petal effect; petal structures; polymer replication; superhydrophobic
4.  Superhydrophobicity in perfection: the outstanding properties of the lotus leaf 
Lotus leaves have become an icon for superhydrophobicity and self-cleaning surfaces, and have led to the concept of the ‘Lotus effect’. Although many other plants have superhydrophobic surfaces with almost similar contact angles, the lotus shows better stability and perfection of its water repellency. Here, we compare the relevant properties such as the micro- and nano-structure, the chemical composition of the waxes and the mechanical properties of lotus with its competitors. It soon becomes obvious that the upper epidermis of the lotus leaf has developed some unrivaled optimizations. The extraordinary shape and the density of the papillae are the basis for the extremely reduced contact area between surface and water drops. The exceptional dense layer of very small epicuticular wax tubules is a result of their unique chemical composition. The mechanical robustness of the papillae and the wax tubules reduce damage and are the basis for the perfection and durability of the water repellency. A reason for the optimization, particularly of the upper side of the lotus leaf, can be deduced from the fact that the stomata are located in the upper epidermis. Here, the impact of rain and contamination is higher than on the lower epidermis. The lotus plant has successfully developed an excellent protection for this delicate epistomatic surface of its leaves.
PMCID: PMC3148040  PMID: 21977427
epicuticular wax; leaf surface; Lotus effect; papillae; water repellency
5.  Well-ordered polymer nano-fibers with self-cleaning property by disturbing crystallization process 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2014;9(1):352.
Bionic self-cleaning surfaces with well-ordered polymer nano-fibers are firstly fabricated by disturbing crystallization during one-step coating-curing process. Orderly thin (100 nm) and long (5–10 μm) polymer nano-fibers with a certain direction are fabricated by external macroscopic force (Fblow) interference introduced by H2 gas flow, leading to superior superhydrophobicity with a water contact angle (WCA) of 170° and a water sliding angle (WSA) of 0-1°. In contrast, nano-wires and nano-bridges (1–8 μm in length/10-80 nm in width) are generated by “spinning/stretching” under internal microscopic force (FT) interference due to significant temperature difference in the non-uniform cooling medium. The findings provide a novel theoretical basis for controllable polymer “bionic lotus” surface and will further promote practical application in many engineering fields such as drag-reduction and anti-icing.
PMCID: PMC4106910  PMID: 25114644
Polymer; Nano-fibers/spheres; Controllable; Superhydrophobicity; Disturbing crystallization
6.  Biomimicry of multifunctional nanostructures in the neck feathers of mallard (Anas platyrhynchos L.) drakes 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4718.
Biological systems serve as fundamental sources of inspiration for the development of artificially colored devices, and their investigation provides a great number of photonic design opportunities. While several successful biomimetic designs have been detailed in the literature, conventional fabrication techniques nonetheless remain inferior to their natural counterparts in complexity, ease of production and material economy. Here, we investigate the iridescent neck feathers of Anas platyrhynchos drakes, show that they feature an unusual arrangement of two-dimensional (2D) photonic crystals and further exhibit a superhydrophobic surface, and mimic this multifunctional structure using a nanostructure composite fabricated by a recently developed top-down iterative size reduction method, which avoids the above-mentioned fabrication challenges, provides macroscale control and enhances hydrophobicity through the surface structure. Our 2D solid core photonic crystal fibres strongly resemble drake neck plumage in structure and fully polymeric material composition, and can be produced in wide array of colors by minor alterations during the size reduction process.
PMCID: PMC3994447  PMID: 24751587
7.  Biomimicry in biomedical research 
Organogenesis  2012;8(4):101-102.
Biomimicry (literally defined as the imitation of life or nature) has sparked a variety of human innovations and inspired countless cutting-edge designs. From spider silk-made artificial skin to lotus leaf-inspired self-cleaning materials, biomimicry endeavors to solve human problems. Biomimetic approaches have contributed significantly to advances biomedical research during recent years. Using polyacrylamide gels to mimic the elastic modulus of different biological tissues, Disher’s lab has directed meschymal stem cell differentiation into specific lineages.1 They have shown that soft substrates mimicking the elastic modulus of brain tissues (0.1~1 kPa) were neurogenic, substrates of intermediate elastic modulus mimicking muscle (8 ~17 kPa) were myogenic, and substrates with bone-like elastic modulus (25~40 kPa) were osteogenic. This work represents a novel way to regulate the fate of stem cells and exerts profound influence on stem cell research. Biomimcry also drives improvements in tissue engineering. Novel scaffolds have been designed to capture extracellular matrix-like structures, binding of ligands, sustained release of cytokines, and mechanical properties intrinsic to specific tissues for tissue engineering applications.2,3 For example, tissue engineering skin grafts have been designed to mimic the cell composition and layered structure of native skin.4 Similarly, in the field of regenerative medicine, researchers aim to create biomimetic scaffolds to mimic the properties of a native stem cell environment (niche) to dynamically interact with the entrapped stem cells and direct their response.5
PMCID: PMC3562250  PMID: 23275257
8.  Anthelmintic Activities of Aporphine from Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. cv. Rosa-plena against Hymenolepis nana 
Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. cv. Rosa-plena (Nelumbonaceae), commonly known as lotus, is a perennial aquatic plant grown and consumed throughout Asia. All parts of N. nucifera have been used for various medicinal purposes in oriental medicine. From the leaves of Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. cv. Rosa-plena (an aquatic plant), liriodenine (1), lysicamine (2), (−)-anonaine (3), (-)-asimilobine (4), (-)-caaverine (5), (-)-N-methylasimilobine (6), (-)-nuciferine (7), (-)-nornuciferine (8), (-)-roemerine (9), 7-hydroxydehydronuciferine (10) and cepharadione B (11) were isolated and identification and anthelmintic activities of aporphine was evaluated against Anisakis simplex and Hymenolepis nana. This study found that the above constituents killed H. nana or reduced their spontaneous movements (oscillation/peristalsis). However, the above constituents at various concentrations demonstrated no larvicidal effect or ability to halt spontaneous parasite movement for 72 h against A. simplex, respectively. In addition, according to an assay of cestocidal activity against H. nana and nematocidal activity against A. simplex, we found that the above compounds showed greater lethal efficacy on H. nana than against A. simplex. Further investigation showed that these above constituents have effects against peroxyl radicals under cestocidal effect. Together, these findings suggest that these constituents of Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. cv. Rosa-plena might be used as anthelmintic agents against H. nana.
PMCID: PMC3975358  PMID: 24583851
Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn; aporphine; Hymenolepis nana; Anisakis simplex; anthelmintic activity; peroxyl radical
9.  Modeling how shark and dolphin skin patterns control transitional wall-turbulence vorticity patterns using spatiotemporal phase reset mechanisms 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:6650.
Many slow-moving biological systems like seashells and zebrafish that do not contend with wall turbulence have somewhat organized pigmentation patterns flush with their outer surfaces that are formed by underlying autonomous reaction-diffusion (RD) mechanisms. In contrast, sharks and dolphins contend with wall turbulence, are fast swimmers, and have more organized skin patterns that are proud and sometimes vibrate. A nonlinear spatiotemporal analytical model is not available that explains the mechanism underlying control of flow with such proud patterns, despite the fact that shark and dolphin skins are major targets of reverse engineering mechanisms of drag and noise reduction. Comparable to RD, a minimal self-regulation model is given for wall turbulence regeneration in the transitional regime—laterally coupled, diffusively—which, although restricted to pre-breakdown durations and to a plane close and parallel to the wall, correctly reproduces many experimentally observed spatiotemporal organizations of vorticity in both laminar-to-turbulence transitioning and very low Reynolds number but turbulent regions. We further show that the onset of vorticity disorganization is delayed if the skin organization is treated as a spatiotemporal template of olivo-cerebellar phase reset mechanism. The model shows that the adaptation mechanisms of sharks and dolphins to their fluid environment have much in common.
PMCID: PMC4206846  PMID: 25338940
10.  Measuring air layer volumes retained by submerged floating-ferns Salvinia and biomimetic superhydrophobic surfaces 
Some plants and animals feature superhydrophobic surfaces capable of retaining a layer of air when submerged under water. Long-term air retaining surfaces (Salvinia-effect) are of high interest for biomimetic applications like drag reduction in ship coatings of up to 30%. Here we present a novel method for measuring air volumes and air loss under water. We recorded the buoyancy force of the air layer on leaf surfaces of four different Salvinia species and on one biomimetic surface using a highly sensitive custom made strain gauge force transducer setup. The volume of air held by a surface was quantified by comparing the buoyancy force of the specimen with and then without an air layer. Air volumes retained by the Salvinia-surfaces ranged between 0.15 and 1 L/m2 depending on differences in surface architecture. We verified the precision of the method by comparing the measured air volumes with theoretical volume calculations and could find a good agreement between both values. In this context we present techniques to calculate air volumes on surfaces with complex microstructures. The introduced method also allows to measure decrease or increase of air layers with high accuracy in real-time to understand dynamic processes.
PMCID: PMC4077374  PMID: 24991518
air layer; biomimetic; drag reduction; functional surfaces; plastron; Salvinia effect; volume measurement
11.  Self-similarity of contact line depinning from textured surfaces 
Nature Communications  2013;4:1492-.
The mobility of drops on surfaces is important in many biological and industrial processes, but the phenomena governing their adhesion, which is dictated by the morphology of the three-phase contact line, remain unclear. Here we describe a technique for measuring the dynamic behaviour of the three-phase contact line at micron length scales using environmental scanning electron microscopy. We examine a superhydrophobic surface on which a drop’s adhesion is governed by capillary bridges at the receding contact line. We measure the microscale receding contact angle of each bridge and show that the Gibbs criterion is satisfied at the microscale. We reveal a hitherto unknown self-similar depinning mechanism that shows how some hierarchical textures such as lotus leaves lead to reduced pinning, and counter-intuitively, how some lead to increased pinning. We develop a model to predict adhesion force and experimentally verify the model’s broad applicability on both synthetic and natural textured surfaces.
The motion of liquid drops on surfaces is governed by adhesion forces, but the microscopic mechanism is unclear. Paxson et al. image the dynamic distortion of the edge of a droplet as it moves across a surface, allowing them to predict the wetting ability of different hierarchically textured surfaces.
PMCID: PMC3586717  PMID: 23422660
12.  Non-Contaminating Camouflage: Multifunctional Skin Microornamentation in the West African Gaboon Viper (Bitis rhinoceros) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91087.
The West African Gaboon viper (Bitis rhinoceros) has an extraordinary coloration of pale brown and velvety black markings. The velvety black appearance is caused by a unique hierarchical surface structures which was not found on the pale brown scales. In the present study we examined the wettability of the vipeŕs scales by measuring contact angles of water droplets. Velvet black scale surfaces had high static contact angles beyond 160° and low roll-off angles below 20° indicating an outstanding superhydrophobicity. Our calculations showed that the Cassie-Baxter model describes well wettability effects for these surfaces. Self-cleaning capabilities were determined by contaminating the scales with particles and fogging them until droplets formed. Black scales were clean after fogging, while pale scales stayed contaminated. Black scales feature multifunctional structures providing not only water-repellent but also self-cleaning properties. The pattern of nanoridges can be used as a model for surface-active technical surfaces.
PMCID: PMC3944882  PMID: 24599379
13.  Surface micropattern limits bacterial contamination 
Bacterial surface contamination contributes to transmission of nosocomial infections. Chemical cleansers used to control surface contamination are often toxic and incorrectly implemented. Additional non-toxic strategies should be combined with regular cleanings to mitigate risks of human error and further decrease rates of nosocomial infections. The Sharklet micropattern (MP), inspired by shark skin, is an effective tool for reducing bacterial load on surfaces without toxic additives. The studies presented here were carried out to investigate the MP surfaces capability to reduce colonization of methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) compared to smooth control surfaces.
The MP and smooth surfaces produced in acrylic film were compared for remaining bacterial contamination and colonization following inoculation. Direct sampling of surfaces was carried out after inoculation by immersion, spray, and/or touch methods. Ultimately, a combination assay was developed to assess bacterial contamination after touch transfer inoculation combined with drying (persistence) to mimic common environmental contamination scenarios in the clinic or hospital environment. The combination transfer and persistence assay was then used to test antimicrobial copper beside the MP for the ability to reduce MSSA and MRSA challenge.
The MP reduced bacterial contamination with log reductions ranging from 87-99% (LR = 0.90-2.18; p < 0.05) compared to smooth control surfaces. The MP was more effective than the 99.9% pure copper alloy C11000 at reducing surface contamination of S. aureus (MSSA and MRSA) through transfer and persistence of bacteria. The MP reduced MSSA by as much as 97% (LR = 1.54; p < 0.01) and MRSA by as much as 94% (LR = 1.26; p < 0.005) compared to smooth controls. Antimicrobial copper had no significant effect on MSSA contamination, but reduced MRSA contamination by 80% (LR = 0.70; p < 0.005).
The assays developed in this study mimic hospital environmental contamination events to demonstrate the performance of a MP to limit contamination under multiple conditions. Antimicrobial copper has been implemented in hospital room studies to evaluate its impact on nosocomial infections and a decrease in HAI rate was shown. Similar implementation of the MP has potential to reduce the incidence of HAIs although future clinical studies will be necessary to validate the MP’s true impact.
PMCID: PMC4166016  PMID: 25232470
14.  Superhydrophobic poly(L-lactic acid) surface as potential bacterial colonization substrate 
AMB Express  2011;1:34.
Hydrophobicity is a very important surface property and there is a growing interest in the production and characterization of superhydrophobic surfaces. Accordingly, it was recently shown how to obtain a superhydrophobic surface using a simple and cost-effective method on a polymer named poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA). To evaluate the ability of such material as a substrate for bacterial colonization, this work assessed the capability of different bacteria to colonize a biomimetic rough superhydrophobic (SH) PLLA surface and also a smooth hydrophobic (H) one. The interaction between these surfaces and bacteria with different morphologies and cell walls was studied using one strain of Staphylococcus aureus and one of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Results showed that both bacterial strains colonized the surfaces tested, although significantly higher numbers of S. aureus cells were found on SH surfaces comparing to H ones. Moreover, scanning electron microscopy images showed an extracellular matrix produced by P. aeruginosa on SH PLLA surfaces, indicating that this bacterium is able to form a biofilm on such substratum. Bacterial removal through lotus leaf effect was also tested, being more efficient on H coupons than on SH PLLA ones. Overall, the results showed that SH PLLA surfaces can be used as a substrate for bacterial colonization and, thus, have an exceptional potential for biotechnology applications.
PMCID: PMC3261809  PMID: 22018163
Poly(L-lactic acid); Superhydrophobicity; Biomimetic surfaces; Bacterial colonization substrate
15.  Lotus leaf extract and L-carnitine influence different processes during the adipocyte life cycle 
The cellular and molecular mechanisms of adipose tissue biology have been studied extensively over the last two decades. Adipose tissue growth involves both an increase in fat cell size and the formation of mature adipocytes from precursor cells. To investigate how natural substances influence these two processes, we examined the effects of lotus leaf extract (Nelumbo nucifera-extract solution obtained from Silab, France) and L-carnitine on human preadipocytes and adipocytes.
For our in vitro studies, we used a lotus leaf extract solution alone or in combination with L-carnitine. Utilizing cultured human preadipocytes, we investigated lotus leaf extract solution-induced inhibition of triglyceride incorporation during adipogenesis and possible effects on cell viability. Studies on human adipocytes were performed aiming to elucidate the efficacy of lotus leaf extract solution to stimulate lipolytic activity. To further characterize lotus leaf extract solution-mediated effects, we determined the expression of the transcription factor adipocyte determination and differentiation factor 1 (ADD1/SREBP-1c) on the RNA- and protein level utilizing qRT-PCR and immunofluorescence analysis. Additionally, the effect of L-carnitine on beta-oxidation was analyzed using human preadipocytes and mature adipocytes. Finally, we investigated additive effects of a combination of lotus leaf extract solution and L-carnitine on triglyceride accumulation during preadipocyte/adipocyte differentiation.
Our data showed that incubation of preadipocytes with lotus leaf extract solution significantly decreased triglyceride accumulation during adipogenesis without affecting cell viability. Compared to controls, adipocytes incubated with lotus leaf extract solution exhibited a significant increase in lipolysis-activity. Moreover, cell populations cultivated in the presence of lotus leaf extract solution showed a decrease in adipocyte differentiation capacity as indicated by a decrease in the ADD1/SREBP-1c signal. Importantly, our results demonstrated that a combination of lotus leaf extract solution and L-carnitine reduced triglyceride accumulation to a greater extent compared to incubation with either substance alone.
Overall, our data demonstrate that a combination of lotus leaf extract and L-carnitine reduced triglyceride accumulation in human (pre)adipocytes by affecting different processes during the adipocyte life cycle. For this reason, this combination might represent a treatment option for obesity-related diseases.
PMCID: PMC2922297  PMID: 20687953
16.  The study of surface wetting, nanobubbles and boundary slip with an applied voltage: A review 
The drag of fluid flow at the solid–liquid interface in the micro/nanoscale is an important issue in micro/nanofluidic systems. Drag depends on the surface wetting, nanobubbles, surface charge and boundary slip. Some researchers have focused on the relationship between these interface properties. In this review, the influence of an applied voltage on the surface wettability, nanobubbles, surface charge density and slip length are discussed. The contact angle (CA) and contact angle hysteresis (CAH) of a droplet of deionized (DI) water on a hydrophobic polystyrene (PS) surface were measured with applied direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) voltages. The nanobubbles in DI water and three kinds of saline solution on a PS surface were imaged when a voltage was applied. The influence of the surface charge density on the nanobubbles was analyzed. Then the slip length and the electrostatic force on the probe were measured on an octadecyltrichlorosilane (OTS) surface with applied voltage. The influence of the surface charge on the boundary slip and drag of fluid flow has been discussed. Finally, the influence of the applied voltage on the surface wetting, nanobubbles, surface charge, boundary slip and the drag of liquid flow are summarized. With a smaller surface charge density which could be achieved by applying a voltage on the surface, larger and fewer nanobubbles, a larger slip length and a smaller drag of liquid flow could be found.
PMCID: PMC4143124  PMID: 25161839
atomic force microscopy; boundary slip; electrowetting; nanobubbles; surface charge
17.  Under-water superoleophobic Glass: Unexplored role of the surfactant-rich solvent 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:1862.
Preparing low energy liquid-repellant surfaces (superhydrophobic or superoleophobic) have attracted tremendous attention of late. In all these studies, the necessary liquid repellency is achieved by irreversible micro-nano texturing of the surfaces. Here we show for the first time that a glass surface, placed under water, can be made superoleophobic (with unprecedented contact angles close to 180 degrees and roll off angles only a few fractions of 1 degree) by merely changing the surfactant content of the water medium in which the oil (immiscible in water) has been dispersed. Therefore, we propose a paradigm shift in efforts to achieve liquid-repellant systems, namely, altering the solvent characteristics instead of engineering the surfaces. The effect occurs for a surfactant concentration much larger than the critical micelle concentration, and is associated to strong adsorption of surfactant molecules at the solid surface, triggering an extremely stable Cassie-Baxter like conformation of the oil droplets.
PMCID: PMC3659319  PMID: 23689477
18.  Biomimicry of surfactant protein C 
Accounts of Chemical Research  2008;41(10):1409-1417.
Since the widespread use of exogenous lung surfactant to treat neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, premature infant survival and respiratory morbidity have dramatically improved. Despite the effectiveness of the animal-derived surfactant preparations, there still remain some concerns and difficulties associated with their use. This has prompted investigation into the creation of synthetic surfactant preparations. However, to date, no clinically used synthetic formulation is as effective as the natural material. This is largely because the previous synthetic formulations lacked analogues of the hydrophobic proteins of the lung surfactant system, SP-B and SP-C, which are critical functional constituents. As a result, recent investigation has turned towards the development of a new generation of synthetic, biomimetic surfactants that contain synthetic phospholipids along with a mimic of the hydrophobic protein portion of lung surfactant.
In this Account, we detail our efforts in creating accurate mimics of SP-C for use in a synthetic surfactant replacement therapy. Despite SP-C’s seemingly simple structure, the predominantly helical protein is extraordinarily challenging to work with given its extreme hydrophobicity and structural instability, which greatly complicates the creation of an effective SP-C analogue.
Drawing inspiration from Nature, two promising biomimetic approaches have led to the creation of rationally designed biopolymers that recapitulate many of SP-C’s molecular features. The first approach utilizes detailed SP-C structure-activity relationships and amino acid folding propensities to create a peptide-based analogue, SP-C33. In SP-C33, the problematic and metastable poly-valine helix is replaced with a structurally stable, poly-leucine helix and includes a well placed positive charge to prevent aggregation. SP-C33 is both structurally stable and eliminates the association propensity of the native protein. The second approach follows the same design considerations, but makes use of a non-natural, poly-N-substituted glycine or “peptoid” scaffold to circumvent the difficulties associated with SP-C. By incorporating unique, biomimetic side chains in a non-natural backbone, the peptoid mimic captures both SP-C’s hydrophobic patterning and helical secondary structure.
Despite the differences in structure, both SP-C33 and the SP-C peptoid mimic capture many requisite features of SP-C. In a surfactant environment, these analogues also replicate many of the key surface activities necessary for a functional biomimetic surfactant therapy while overcoming the difficulties associated with the natural protein. With improved stability, greater production potential, and elimination of possible pathogenic contamination, these biomimetic surfactant formulations offer the potential not only to improve the treatment of respiratory distress syndrome, but also the opportunity to treat other respiratory-related disorders.
PMCID: PMC3270935  PMID: 18834153
19.  Bioinspired TiO2 Nanostructure Films with Special Wettability and Adhesion for Droplets Manipulation and Patterning 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:3009.
Patterned surfaces with special wettability and adhesion (sliding, sticky or patterned superoleophobic surface) can be found on many living creatures. They offer a versatile platform for microfluidic management and other biological functions. Inspired by their precise arrangement of structure and chemical component, we described a facile one-step approach to construct large scale pinecone-like anatase TiO2 particles (ATP) film. The as-prepared ATP film exhibits excellent superamphiphilic property in air, changes to underwater superoleophobicity with good dynamical stability. In addition, erasable and rewritable patterned superamphiphobic ATP films or three-dimensional (3D) Janus surfaces were constructed for a versatile platform for microfluidic management and biomedical applications. In a proof-of-concept study, robust super-antiwetting feet for artificial anti-oil strider at the oil/water interface, novel superamphiphobic surface for repeatable oil/water separation, and multifunctional patterned superamphiphobic ATP template for cell, fluorecent probe and inorganic nanoparticles site-selective immobilization were demonstrated.
PMCID: PMC3804863  PMID: 24145915
20.  Superhydrophobic nature of nanostructures on an indigenous Australian eucalyptus plant and its potential application 
In this preliminary study, the morphology and nanostructured features formed by the epicuticular waxes of the mottlecah (Eucalyptus macrocarpa) leaf were investigated and quantified. The surface features formed by the waxes give the leaf remarkable wetting and self-cleaning properties that enhance the plant’s survival in an arid climate. This paper also provides experimental evidence of the self-assembly properties of the epicuticular waxes. Analysis of the water contact angle measurements gave a mean static contact angle of 162.00 ± 6.10 degrees, which clearly indicated that the mottlecah’s leaf surface was superhydrophobic. Detailed field emission scanning electron microscopy examination revealed that the surface was covered by bumps approximately 20 μm in diameter and regularly spaced at a distance of around 26 μm. The bumps are capped by nanotubules/pillars with an average diameter of 280 nm at the tips. Self-cleaning experiments indicated that the mottlecah’s leaf could be effectively cleaned by a fine spray of water droplets that rolled over the surface picking up contaminants. Field emission scanning electron microscopy investigation of extracted epicuticular waxes revealed that the waxes were capable of self-reassembly and formed features similar to those of the original leaf surface. Furthermore, also reported is a simple technique for surface treating one side of a planar surface to produce a superhydrophobic surface that can be used as a planar floatation platform for microdevices.
PMCID: PMC3781715  PMID: 24198490
superhydrophobic; nanopillars; epicuticular waxes; self-cleaning; floatation; micro-fluidic
21.  Genome of the long-living sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.) 
Genome Biology  2013;14(5):R41.
Sacred lotus is a basal eudicot with agricultural, medicinal, cultural and religious importance. It was domesticated in Asia about 7,000 years ago, and cultivated for its rhizomes and seeds as a food crop. It is particularly noted for its 1,300-year seed longevity and exceptional water repellency, known as the lotus effect. The latter property is due to the nanoscopic closely packed protuberances of its self-cleaning leaf surface, which have been adapted for the manufacture of a self-cleaning industrial paint, Lotusan.
The genome of the China Antique variety of the sacred lotus was sequenced with Illumina and 454 technologies, at respective depths of 101× and 5.2×. The final assembly has a contig N50 of 38.8 kbp and a scaffold N50 of 3.4 Mbp, and covers 86.5% of the estimated 929 Mbp total genome size. The genome notably lacks the paleo-triplication observed in other eudicots, but reveals a lineage-specific duplication. The genome has evidence of slow evolution, with a 30% slower nucleotide mutation rate than observed in grape. Comparisons of the available sequenced genomes suggest a minimum gene set for vascular plants of 4,223 genes. Strikingly, the sacred lotus has 16 COG2132 multi-copper oxidase family proteins with root-specific expression; these are involved in root meristem phosphate starvation, reflecting adaptation to limited nutrient availability in an aquatic environment.
The slow nucleotide substitution rate makes the sacred lotus a better resource than the current standard, grape, for reconstructing the pan-eudicot genome, and should therefore accelerate comparative analysis between eudicots and monocots.
PMCID: PMC4053705  PMID: 23663246
22.  Polyphenolic extract of lotus root (edible rhizome of Nelumbo nucifera) alleviates hepatic steatosis in obese diabetic db/db mice 
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is emerging as the most common liver disease of industrialized countries. Thus, discovering food components that can ameliorate NAFLD is of interest. Lotus root, the edible rhizome of Nelumbo nucifera, contains high levels of polyphenolic compounds, and several health-promoting properties of lotus root have been reported. In this study, we tested whether feeding a polyphenolic extract of lotus root to db/db mice protects them from hepatic steatosis.
After 3 weeks of feeding, the hepatomegaly and hepatic triglyceride accumulation were markedly alleviated in the lotus polyphenol-diet-fed db/db mice relative to the control mice. Although the lipolytic enzyme activity was not changed, the activities of lipogenic enzymes, such as fatty acid synthase and malic enzyme, were significantly lower in the lotus polyphenol diet-fed db/db mice. Additionally, the ESI-IT/MS and MALDI-TOF MS spectra revealed the presence of B-type proanthocyanidin polymers with polymerization degree up to 9 in the polyphenolic lotus root extract.
We speculate that the condensed tannins contained in lotus root can alleviate hepatic steatosis by suppressing the lipogenic enzyme activity in the livers of db/db mice.
PMCID: PMC3228742  PMID: 22067945
23.  Short Photoperiod Induces Dormancy in Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) 
Annals of Botany  2006;97(1):39-45.
• Background and Aims Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) has been cultivated as an ornamental and food plant in Japan for more than 1000 years. As large areas are required for its cultivation (approximately 2 m2 per plant), physiological research, such as into the effect of environmental factors on dormancy, has not been well studied until recently. In this paper, seedlings were used to examine environmental factors affecting dormancy induction.
• Methods In a first experiment, seeds were sown from 6 April to 6 October at 2-month intervals, and cultivated for 2 months in an unheated greenhouse. In a second experiment, seeds were prepared for germination on 16 November and 16 May and the seedlings were grown at 25 or 30 °C under natural daylength in phytotron growth rooms. After 1 month, the seedlings were cultivated at 20, 25 or 30 °C for a further month. The number of leaves and rhizome branches on the main stem were counted, and growth of rhizomes on the main stem was calculated using a rhizome enlargement index (= maximum internode diameter/internode length) after 2 months of culture in both experiments.
• Key Results Rhizomes elongated without enlargement when the seeds were sown in April and June. Sowing the seeds in August and October resulted in rhizome enlargement from the tenth and fifth internodes, respectively. Rhizomes enlarged in the November-sowing but elongated in the May-sowing irrespective of temperature treatments under natural daylength in the phytotron rooms. The seedlings cultivated from May at 25–30 °C for 2 months had more leaves, and more rhizome branches and nodes than those cultivated from November.
• Conclusions Short days led to induced dormancy in lotus.
PMCID: PMC2000761  PMID: 16287906
Dormancy; leaf production; Nelumbo nucifera; photoperiod; rhizome branching; rhizome enlargement; temperature
24.  Biogenesis of C-Glycosyl Flavones and Profiling of Flavonoid Glycosides in Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e108860.
Flavonoids in nine tissues of Nelumbo nucifera Gaertner were identified and quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography with diode array detector (HPLC-DAD) and HPLC-electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (HPLC-ESI-MSn). Thirty-eight flavonoids were identified; eleven C-glycosides and five O-glycosides were discovered for the first time in N. nucifera. Most importantly, the C-glycosyl apigenin or luteolin detected in lotus plumules proved valuable for deep elucidation of flavonoid composition in lotus tissues and for further utilization as functional tea and medicine materials. Lotus leaves possessed the significantly highest amount of flavonoids (2.06E3±0.08 mg 100 g−1 FW) and separating and purifying the bioactive compound, quercetin 3-O-glucuronide, from leaves showed great potential. In contrast, flavonoids in flower stalks, seed coats and kernels were extremely low. Simultaneously, the optimal picking time was confirmed by comparing the compound contents in five developmental phases. Finally, we proposed the putative flavonoid biosynthesis pathway in N. nucifera.
PMCID: PMC4184820  PMID: 25279809
25.  Polymer Composition and Substrate Influences on the Adhesive Bonding of a Biomimetic, Cross-Linking Polymer 
Hierarchical biological materials such as bone, sea shells, and marine bioadhesives are providing inspiration for the assembly of synthetic molecules into complex structures. The adhesive system of marine mussels has been the focus of much attention in recent years. Several catechol-containing polymers are being developed to mimic the cross-linking of proteins containing 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) used by shellfish for sticking to rocks. Many of these biomimetic polymer systems have been shown to form surface coatings or hydrogels, however bulk adhesion is demonstrated less often. Developing adhesives requires addressing design issues including finding a good balance between cohesive and adhesive bonding interactions. Despite the growing number of mussel mimicking polymers, there has been little effort to generate structure-property relations and gain insights on what chemical traits give rise to the best glues. In this report, we examined the simplest of these biomimetic polymers, poly[(3,4-dihydroxystyrene)-co-styrene]. Pendant catechol groups (i.e., 3,4-dihydroxystyrene) were distributed throughout a polystyrene backbone. Several polymer derivatives were prepared, each with a different 3,4-dihyroxystyrene content. Bulk adhesion testing showed where the optimal middle ground of cohesive and adhesive bonding resides. Adhesive performance was benchmarked against commercial glues as well as the genuine material produced by live mussels. In the best case, bonding was similar to cyanoacrylate “Krazy” or “Super” glue. Performance was also examined using low (e.g., plastics) and high (e.g., metals, wood) energy surfaces. Adhesive bonding of poly[(3,4-dihydroxystyrene)-co-styrene] may be the strongest of reported mussel protein mimics. These insights should help us to design future biomimetic systems, thereby bringing us closer to development of bone cements, dental composites, and surgical glues.
PMCID: PMC3415564  PMID: 22582754

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