The article goes on to discuss 8 new technologies based upon octopus biologics.The octopus has inspired much technological innovation, and with good reason. This cephalopod is dexterous underwater, can camouflage itself, has well-developed vision, muscular arms, sensory suction cups and a soft body.
"The octopus is a fascinating animal, very special indeed, given its muscular structure that works like a modifiable skeleton," said Cecilia Laschi, a biorobotics professor at the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy.
Laschi is currently editing a special issue of the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, slated to be published this fall, about octopus-inspired robotics. [See photos of various octopus-inspired technologies] ...
Margaret McFall-Ngai has dissected the relationship between a beautiful squid and its live-in bacteria — and found lessons for microbiome research on the way.
Next generation display screens won't be like anything we've ever seen in the digital world before.
But they might look like something in the natural world.
Cuttlefish skin to be exact. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers are hypothesizing that the cuttlefish's ability to seamlessly camouflage into its surroundings by quickly manipulating its skin into various colors and textures may be key to innovating next generation display screens that not only display brilliant colors, but can interact through touch. Now researchers from UIUC's Beckman Institute, an interdisciplinary research center, are studying cuttlefish at a cellular and 3D level to gain insights that could be used in displays.
“Imagine being able to feel an image, not just see it,” said said Steven Allan Boppart, engineering professor and head of the research team to Engineering at IL. ...
In this current investigation, the antioxidant peptides were derived from marine Sepia brevimana mantle by trypsin, α-chymotrypsin and pepsin for 12 hours hydrolysis. The active peptides were found in the hydrolysates of trypsin and α-chymotrypsin at the 7th hour and pepsin at the 8th hour. The highest activity was found in trypsin hydrolysate compared to others using various radical scavenging and metal ions transition assays, further the hydrophobic amino acids were observed in more quantity along with other amino acids. Active peptide was purified by consecutive chromatographic techniques and evaluated by DPPH (38.81±1.07%) and reducing power assays (0.478±0.03). The purified peptide exhibited significant inhibition for the linoleic acid auto-oxidation in the model system, protective effect on DNA damage due to hydroxyl radical induction and was non-toxic even at higher concentration. The mass and sequence of the peptide was found to be 679.5 Da and Ile/Leu-Asn-Ile/Leu-Cys-Cys-Asn, respectively. The current results suggested that cuttlefish peptide could be used as natural antioxidant in enhancing antioxidant properties of functional foods and in preventing oxidation reactions in food processing.
Hip and knee implants, made of polyethylene or plastic, need to be replaced approximately every 15 years due to wear and tear. Assistant Professor Ali Miserez and his research team from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore discovered that the protein structure of beaks of squids could be mimicked to create joint implants for humans. Squid beaks comprise of interlinked chitin fibres, similar to that in insects and crustaceans, as well as concentrated liquid protein solution that diffuses throughout these chitin fibres. The concentrated liquid protein diffuses all the way to the tip of the beak, hardens, and acts as a binder, analogous to superglue hardening when exposed to air.
The beak of the jumbo squid Dosidicus gigas is fascinating; a 200-fold stiffness gradient begins in the hydrated chitin of the soft beak base and gradually increases to maximum stiffness in the dehydrated distal rostrum. The scientists combined RNA-Seq and proteomics to show that the beak contains two protein families. One family consists of chitin-binding proteins (DgCBPs) that physically join chitin chains, whereas the other family comprises highly modular histidine-rich proteins (DgHBPs). DgHBPs play multiple key roles during beak bioprocessing, first by forming concentrated coacervate solutions that diffuse into the DgCBP-chitin scaffold, and second by inducing crosslinking via an abundant GHG sequence motif. These processes generate spatially controlled desolvation, resulting in the impressive bio-mechanical gradient.
While explaining the downside of current joint implants, Prof Miserez shared that, “You have this very stiff material coming into contact with very soft flesh, and you have deep tissue damage.” He believed that implants made with materials resembling squid beaks would prevent tissue damage in patients and prolong the lifespan of implants.
Dr Andrew Dutton, medical director and orthopaedic surgeon of SMG orthopaedic group, also raised his concerns on current cartilage implants, “(Current cartilage implants) are very soft, they can break down, they can loosen and come off, and they may not be well incorporated.”
The NTU scientists aim to create next-generation joint implants using high performance natural resources like chitin from waste seafood, and create the concentrated liquid protein in their laboratory.
Source: The Straits Times.
The original paper can be accessed here.
In this review we show that the cephalopod vertical lobe (VL) provides a good system for assessing the level of evolutionary convergence of the function and organization of neuronal circuitry for mediating learning and memory in animals with complex behavior. The pioneering work of JZ Young described the morphological convergence of the VL with the mammalian hippocampus, cerebellum and the insect mushroom body. Studies in octopus and cuttlefish VL networks suggest evolutionary convergence into a universal organization of connectivity as a divergence-convergence (‘fan-out fan-in’) network with activity-dependent long-term plasticity mechanisms. Yet, these studies also show that the properties of the neurons, neurotransmitters, neuromodulators and mechanisms of long-term potentiation (LTP) induction and maintenance are highly variable among different species. This suggests that complex networks may have evolved independently multiple times and that even though memory and learning networks share similar organization and cellular processes, there are many molecular ways of constructing them.
The interest in finding antioxidants from natural sources has become one of the fastest growing fields of study in food chemistry all over the world in the recent years (Lin & Li, 2006), the latter due to their potential of being used for the prevention and treatment of diseases associated to reactive oxygen species (ROS), especially cancer (Je et al., 2005); they are known to be beneficial to human health as they may protect the body against membrane lipids, protein, and DNA damage (Samaranayaka & Li-Chan, 2011).
Seafood byproducts have been reported as a good source of antioxidant compounds (Je et al., 2005; Jeon et al., 2002), from which squid byproducts are one of the alternative sources of these natural antioxidants. Among squid species, jumbo squid (Dosidicus gigas), in addition to being the largest known cephalopod, presents a high amount of byproducts produced during its processing (skin, fins, arms, and head) (Lin & Li, 2006), which have collagen as the most prevalent protein (Alemán et al., 2011a; Gildberg et al., 2002). Collagen has a particular molecular structure, which is rich in non-polar amino acids (above 80%) such as glycine, alanine, valine, and proline, and provides collagen specific properties (Kim & Mendis, 2006).
The main jumbo squid byproduct studied until now is skin. Skin collagen has been enzymatically hydrolyzed to recover proteins and peptide fractions. The peptides isolated from squid skin collagen hydrolysates have shown numerous beneficial properties such as antihypertensive, antithrombotic, immunomodulatory, antiproliferative, and antioxidative activities (Alemán et al., 2011a; Gómez-Guillén et al., 2011; Kim & Mendis, 2006). Moreover, it is known that the molecular size, hydrophobicity, and exposition of polar groups of the peptides produced depend on the enzyme used for protein hydrolysis; this also influences their bioactive properties(Kristinsson, 2007).
Based on the available scientific literature, there is scarce information about the functional properties of jumbo squid fins and arms collagen hydrolysates. Furthermore, due to the structural differences between collagen extracted from fins and that from arms (Torres-Arreola et al., 2008), it is possible that these differences may be reflected in the collagen hydrolysates properties.
The aim of this study was to determine and compare the antioxidant, antimutagenic, and antiproliferative activities of two jumbo squid by-products (fins and arms) collagen hydrolysates obtained by digestion with two different proteases, as measured by free radical scavenging activity assays (DPPH and ABTS), Ames test, and MTT assay respectively.
A linguist and marine biologist at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences began an unlikely project two years ago to compare the movement of the human tongue with the manipulation of the arms of the octopus and the undulation of a small worm known as C. elegans.
The researchers encountered a problem during their observations — the local species of octopus near Catalina Island did not show up daylight hours. However, the scientists were able to find substitute cephalopods in Japan that were active when the sun was out. As a result, the team had hours of video to analyze, and two USC participants in the study reported their progress at an Australian conference held in August.
Titled “Dynamical Principles of Animal Movement,” the project is supported by the National Science Foundation. Its principal investigators at USC Dornsife are Khalil Iskarous, assistant professor of linguistics, and Andrew Gracey, associate professor of biological sciences.
As a linguist, Iskarous hopes the research will help explain how movements of the human tongue are compromised by Parkinson’s disease, but he said the NSF research is aimed at broader questions of motor control.
“When we’re trying to accomplish a physical task, such as reaching for something, it is in three-dimensional space, and we require the coordination of muscles and joints to achieve that task,” he said. “Our muscles and joints have many ‘degrees of freedom’ — they can be flexed or extended in different ways to accomplish a task — and we’re asking how the motor control system of an animal, including a human, will reduce those degrees of freedom to manage things in the environment.”
Iskarous and his colleagues want to know how the process of reducing degrees of freedom unfolds and how it can be quantified.
Getting octopus on camera
The original subjects for the octopus observations are two closely related species — Octopus bimaculoides and Octopus bimaculatus — that live in the waters near the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island. These local cephalopods hunt at night, but the available light was unsuitable for video recording. The octopus experts on the research team subsequently found replacements with help from Japanese colleagues at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology and the University of the Ryukyus.
Ikeda Yuzuru, a cephalopod expert on the faculty at Ryukyus, and his graduate students directed the USC team to a Japanese reef inhabited by octopus of the genus Abdopus. The team members traveled to Okinawa last year, and they spent weeks wading through the water at low tide with high-definition GoPro camcorders mounted on selfie sticks.
“We wanted to take as much video as we could of natural octopus behavior,” said Jean Alupay, a marine biologist and postdoctoral scholar in the USC Dornsife departments of linguistics and biological sciences. “We videotaped for the entire low tide. We were out there for about a month, recording all of these animals in natural behaviors in a foot or less of water.”
Alupay said the researchers captured mating behavior, defensive behavior and a particularly interesting “arm slapping” behavior of an octopus during an extended “interaction” with a goby fish. The octopus appeared to be whipping one of its arms at the fish, an action that likely involves visual perception to direct the slapping behavior and then the physical action of curling its arm and rapidly extending it.
Using calculus for comparisons
The researchers are enhancing the octopus video to show the outlines of their arms when they’re in motion and to place coordinates along those outlines for interpretation using calculus.
“Calculus allows us to look at basic ideas of curvature and change — temporal change and spatial change,” Iskarous said.
Calculus will allow comparison of octopus movements to other subjects in the NSF research project — including C. elegans, a tiny nematode worm. USC Wrigley Institute faculty member Gracey is studying the worm to determine the connection between its genetics and its behavior.
C. elegans measures 1 millimeter end-to-end, and decades of research have documented the characteristics of every one of its 959 cells. Gracey and Iskarous are particularly concerned with cells in the worm that process dopamine, a neurotransmitter that influences movement and motor control.
Later this year, Iskarous will begin work to analyze the movement of the tongue and the production of speech based on observations of people, including those with Parkinson’s. He’ll work on this phase of the project withShrikanth Narayanan, professor of linguistics, psychology and neuroscience at USC Dornsife and professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. Together, they will compare the movement and curvature of the human tongue to the movements of the worms that have undergone modifications to their neural circuits.
Cephalopods are a morphologically diverse molluscan class that includes octopuses, cuttlefishes, squids, and nautiluses. The behavior, morphology, and sometimes aposematic appearance of coleoid cephalopods (octopuses, cuttlefishes, and squids) are highly suggestive of the widespread use of toxins for predation and/or defense. Many cephalopods use a combination of their parrot-like beak and/or toothed radula to inject venomous saliva, thought to be produced in the posterior salivary gland, into prey through a bite wound or a hole drilled into the shell. However, relatively few toxins have been studied to date from only a narrow range of cephalopods. Active components that have been identified from cephalopod posterior salivary gland extracts (or saliva) include neurotoxins such as tetrodotoxin (also found in body tissues), tachykinins and cephalotoxins, biogenic amines such as serotonin and octopamine, and a diverse range of enzymes including serine proteases, phospholipase A2, hyaluronidases, and chitinases. Coleoid cephalopods represent excellent candidates for biodiscovery, being taxonomically distinct from heavily studied venom-producing organisms, and because their venoms appear to be complex mixtures of proteins and small molecules. Understanding the evolutionary history of toxicity in cephalopods remains a challenge, with many major taxa remaining unstudied and very little specific functional information available on most cephalopod toxins. The application of “omics” technologies to research on venoms and other toxic secretions (“venomics”) is an important and powerful way of characterizing entire suites of proteinaceous toxins from pure venom or gland extracts in cephalopods and is likely to yield future insights into the evolution of toxicity in this class.