×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Hagfish Slime Could Make Super-Strong Clothes

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the fabric-of-your-deep-sea-life dept.

Biotech 82

Having the ability to create a 20 liter cloud of slime and tie themselves in knots, hagfish have always been one of my favorite deep-sea denizens. Being a living slime dispenser has not won the species many fans however, with the notable exceptions of Mike Rowe and Dr. Egon Spengler. All that is about to change thanks to the work of a research team at Canada’s University of Guelph. They've found that hagfish slime might be used to make new plastics and even super-strong fabrics. From the article: "A research team at Canada’s University of Guelph managed to harvest the slime from the fish, dissolve it in liquid, and then reassemble its structure by spinning it like silk. It’s an important first step in being able to process the hagfish slime into a useable material, according to Atsuko Negishi, a research assistant and lead author on the paper in this week’s journal Biomacromolecules. 'We’re trying to understand how they make these threads and how we can learn from that to make protein-based fibers that have excellent mechanical properties,' Negishi said. 'The first step is can we harvest the threads. It turns out that is doable.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

82 comments

What about rain? (4, Interesting)

JDeane (1402533) | about a year ago | (#42206313)

I am not sure I want my new shirt to turn back into slime if it gets wet...

P.S. This post is a joke.

Re:What about rain? (2)

codewarren (927270) | about a year ago | (#42207765)

What about rain? I am not sure I want my new shirt to turn back into slime if it gets wet.

P.S. This post was NOT a joke.

Re:What about rain? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42207863)

In some cases that could be a good thing. :-)

Re:What about rain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209449)

What practical advantage can there be for a man to to be wet and covered in slime?

Re:What about rain? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210419)

What practical advantage can there be for a woman to to be wet and covered in slime?

does it make sense now?

Re:What about rain? (2)

budgenator (254554) | about a year ago | (#42210307)

How about Natalie Portman, Dressed in hagfish fabric and petrified and dissolved with hot grits?

Heres my Slashdot card, you can invalidate it (1)

DarthVain (724186) | about a year ago | (#42219565)

As a Canadian I have no idea what grits are.

As a Slashdotter I am still mystified at the whole petrified thing.

Re:Heres my Slashdot card, you can invalidate it (1)

budgenator (254554) | about a year ago | (#42221689)

Seriously, Grits [wikipedia.org] is a Native American or First Nations in Canadian English, dish; best described as a porridge made from Corn meal instead of Oatmeal. It's more commonly eaten in the American South, so I'd guess that your not a Snowbird.

Re:What about rain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210483)

I was offended that you thought we wouldn't get your post was a joke.... then I saw it was modded interesting.

Re:What about rain? (3, Interesting)

JDeane (1402533) | about a year ago | (#42211977)

Some people have a tough time detecting humor in text form... Although to give credit where credit is due, I had not considered some big breasted woman wearing something like this to a wet T shirt competition, and in that case this could be a winning idea. So maybe in that context my comment is more interesting than I had imagined.

My interests... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42206317)

This is relevant to them.

statement pulled from ass? (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about a year ago | (#42206375)

The article makes the astounding claim that this animal "hasn’t evolved for 300 million years". Sounds like hogwash to me, but is there any indication that this is true?

Re:statement pulled from ass? (1)

Whatsisname (891214) | about a year ago | (#42206589)

That's not all that astounding of a claim, there are many such organisms that have not changed much for many tens and hundreds of millions of years. They are often called Living Fossils [wikipedia.org] . Examples include the nautilus, crocodiles, horseshoe crabs, and the hagfish as in TFA.

They determine this by examining fossils from a wide range of geological time frames and see that present day organisms are virtually unchanged from whats in the fossil record.

Re:statement pulled from ass? (4, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#42207551)

You don't know that they haven't changed much. You can only tell that the general morphology (often just the skeleton) of a fossil find matches a modern animal. What does it tell you about the rest? Organs, biochemistry, innate behaviour?

Re:statement pulled from ass? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209189)

You don't know that they haven't changed much. You can only tell that the general morphology (often just the skeleton) of a fossil find matches a modern animal. What does it tell you about the rest? Organs, biochemistry, innate behaviour?

For that, you rely upon their oral history [wikipedia.org] .

Re:statement pulled from ass? (1)

TheLink (130905) | about a year ago | (#42214331)

Immune systems for some of these creatures might have changed too.

But the horseshoe crabs immune system might not have changed much (there might be some tweaks for new fungi and bacteria, but the general mechanism is still probably the same).

Re:statement pulled from ass? (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about a year ago | (#42217221)

You don't know that they haven't changed much. You can only tell that the general morphology (often just the skeleton) of a fossil find matches a modern animal. What does it tell you about the rest?

Yeah, I hear the hagfish used to play draw poker but over 20 million years switched to Texas Hold... errr... Fin-Em.

Re:statement pulled from ass? (4, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#42206655)

The article makes the astounding claim that this animal "hasn't evolved for 300 million years". Sounds like hogwash to me, but is there any indication that this is true?

Sure, fossil records. Let's go with NOAA [noaa.gov] since they're fairly well respected:

Hagfish is considered to be the most primitive vertebrate species either living or extinct (Collette and Klein-MacPhee 2002, Powell et al 2005). Hagfish evolved over at least 300 million years and have the same basic morphological traits of fossilized specimens (Bardack 1991).

And, then there's Berkeley [berkeley.edu] :

The only fossil hagfish is Myxinikela siroka, a Pennsylvanian find from the Francis Creek Shale of northeastern Illinois (Bardack, 1991). The fossil was found within a siderite (iron carbonate) concretion, and preserves the paired tentacles, internal organs, and detail of the head and jaws. The similarity to modern hagfishes is striking, and suggests that there has been little evolutionary change in this group over the last 300 million years.

So, yes, is there is strong evidence that the morphology of hagfish hasn't changed in 300 million years. That's not to say there has been zero changes to it, but nothing radical.

If you can compare a modern specimen to a 300 million year old fossil and fine no differences, you pretty much conclude that it hasn't significantly evolved. Think coelacanth. Think crocodilians. Think MPAA. ;-)

Re:statement pulled from ass? (4, Insightful)

rthille (8526) | about a year ago | (#42207095)

Yeah, that phrase "hasn't evolved in X years" has always bothered me. Of course they've evolved, their genes are subject to the same changes due to random mutation as everyone else's. It's just that the selection pressures on them have kept them largely the same (morphologically speaking) as far as we can tell from fossils.

Re:statement pulled from ass? (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year ago | (#42207175)

Think MPAA. ;-)

If the MPAA had been around 300 million years ago human communication might not have evolved past cave carvings.

Re:statement pulled from ass? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42211047)

...and all the cave carvings would have copyright warnings next to them.

Re:statement pulled from ass? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42206913)

Do they occasionally have mutating genes? Sure, just like any organism. But has the species survived basically unchanged for millions of years, as shown by the fossil record? Yes.

Re:statement pulled from ass? (1)

wrong (27761) | about a year ago | (#42206917)

They may not have changed noticeably, but that doesn't mean they haven't changed. You'd have to sequence a fossil and compare DNA to be sure.

I've met some evolutionary biologists who get rather tetchy when people throw around the terms "less evolved" or "more evolved". They seem to prefer talking about adapting to an environment over 'onwards-and-upwards' pinnacle-of-creation rhetoric. I suspect they would say the critter is just as evolved and evolving as anything else, just not much changed by it - presumably because the basic original design found a nice stable niche to entrench itself in.

Re:statement pulled from ass? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42207749)

Trying to get DNA from a fossil is like trying to get blood from a stone... Actually, it's pretty much exactly that. There have been a few extremely rare times where some preserved proteins could be recovered from very large bones, but nothing anywhere near viable genetic material. You'd need to find an animal frozen in ice if you want DNA.

Re:statement pulled from ass? (1)

tsa (15680) | about a year ago | (#42208997)

This. Every species alive has evolved for as long as it exists on this planet. Some change more than other but they all have to adapt to changing environments.

Re:statement pulled from ass? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42216143)

Can you post their emails so we can send them the entire DEVO discography? Just to mess wit them of course.

Re:statement pulled from ass? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#42207139)

I think crocks and gators haven't evolved in something like 100 million, so a fish not evolving for three times as long doesn't sound too far fetched to me.

Re:statement pulled from ass? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#42212825)

Not to mention Archaea, which doesn't seem to have evolved in billions of years.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaea

Clue: Archaea are the organisms that makes oil from methane.

Slimy creatures that tie themselves in knots? (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#42206389)

Sounds like politicians trying to justify their positions.

Re:Slimy creatures that tie themselves in knots? (3, Funny)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#42206733)

And it is thought that the slime is there to clog up predators gills, suffocating them in bullshit.

Re:Slimy creatures that tie themselves in knots? (1)

sirlark (1676276) | about a year ago | (#42208315)

I'm all for turning my local politicians into clothes... I've always wanted to skin them ... prefereably alive, but I'm not picky ;)

Re:Slimy creatures that tie themselves in knots? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#42208839)

If you are going to be walking around in pale pasty skin, just walk around nude.

at night

far far away from everyone

I suggest a cave, or a basement with no windows.

Please, no pictures.

Marketing Hurdle of the Century (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42206451)

The rebranding necessary for this to sound appealing will be a joy to watch.

Re:Marketing Hurdle of the Century (2)

Spectre (1685) | about a year ago | (#42206631)

The rebranding necessary for this to sound appealing will be a joy to watch.

I agree, but it didn't seem to be that difficult for silk garments:

"Fabric made from worm spit!"*

*Okay, not quite spit, not quite worms, but it would be the layperson's interpretation if they were to see the process of a silkworm spinning its cocoon.

Re:Marketing Hurdle of the Century (2)

sixtyeight (844265) | about a year ago | (#42207555)

Just give it a brand name. Heck, it worked for Twinkies and some people even ate those.

Ocean Silk could work quite well, though it would probably have a more dissociative name - Rymplon, for example.

Re:Marketing Hurdle of the Century (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | about a year ago | (#42207951)

Most things around us, including the keyboard I'm currently typing on, are made out of processed, long-dead and rotten animals. So yeah. Some clothes are made out of that lovely stuff too.

Re:Marketing Hurdle of the Century (1)

drkim (1559875) | about a year ago | (#42211417)

The rebranding necessary for this to sound appealing will be a joy to watch.

I agree, but it didn't seem to be that difficult for silk garments

...or the flower industry:

"Tell her you love her... Give her the gift of a bundle of the hacked-off genitalia of another species!"

Re:Marketing Hurdle of the Century (1)

TheLink (130905) | about a year ago | (#42214383)

FWIW some people actually eat silkworms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD0lk4M3aCI [youtube.com]

Many of us eat honey and like it. Then there are eggs and bacon. Some of us like eating grass seeds that are crushed, mixed with water and then allowed to ferment, then baked.

Then there's sausage and worse: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanically_separated_meat [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_slime [wikipedia.org]

So just give it a new name and people won't care.

Re:Marketing Hurdle of the Century (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#42206781)

What do they call it when they eat it in Korea?

Re:Marketing Hurdle of the Century (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42208319)

Delicious!

Re:Marketing Hurdle of the Century (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42215341)

Botox.

Re:Marketing Hurdle of the Century (1)

beeudoublez (619109) | about a year ago | (#42220155)

Well, the Chilean Sea Bass was originally called the Patagonian Toothfish, and Mahi was originally called Dolphinfish.

I think they'll work something out.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patagonian_toothfish

There are basically two ways to make nano-fibers (5, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#42206629)

Synthetics like nylon are generally made by going down the energy gradient. That is, you start with something high in energy like petroleum, then run it through a bunch of chemical reactions which use up bits of the energy contained therein to make your synthetic fiber. This works because the energy gradient makes the raw chemicals want to combine the way you want them to, and all you have to do is mix them in the right amounts at the right time (and sometimes right temperature and pressure).

Naturals like silk and cotton go up the energy gradient. Start with raw materials, add energy, and build the fibers out of sugars (cellulose - cotton) or proteins (silk). If you mix a bunch of the raw ingredients in a beaker, they won't combine they way you want them to because it's going up the energy gradient. You need little machines which take energy and combine the materials in the shape you want. Our nano-technology isn't good enough yet to compete with nature''s nano-technology, so it's easier to have plants and animals do the nano-assembly and just harvest the final product.

Unless the fibers from hagfish slime buck the trend and go down the energy gradient, they're unlikely to replace synthetics. All you'll end up doing is raising hagfish on a farm to harvest their slime, which you refine into these fibers. Production capacity will be limited by the number of hagfish you can raise, as opposed to synthetics whose production is limited by the raw materials you can acquire. In other words, don't expect this to replace plastics unless hagfish turn out to be extraordinarily easy to farm in huge numbers.

Re:There are basically two ways to make nano-fiber (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#42206847)

In other words, don't expect this to replace plastics unless hagfish turn out to be extraordinarily easy to farm in huge numbers.

I have no doubt that they would be ridiculously easy to farm. They may be slightly harder to farm than cockroaches.

Re:There are basically two ways to make nano-fiber (2)

RKThoadan (89437) | about a year ago | (#42207141)

They mentioned that farming it from the fish in adequate amounts would difficult. They hope to graft the slime production into bacteria for mass production.

Re:There are basically two ways to make nano-fiber (1)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | about a year ago | (#42214915)

Two points to note: We *are* running out of raw materials for synthetics, as they are made using crude oil. And the hagfish slime fabric would likely first replace similar natural fabrics such as silk.

With those points in mind, I think hagfish harvesting might just be economically viable. At least we've finally found a use for the disgusting things.

Did you pee in your pants? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42206703)

...or is that just hagfish slime?

Hagfish by GAP (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year ago | (#42206715)

Somehow I can't quite see that catching on.

Re:Hagfish by GAP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42206965)

But you can see (Silk) Worms by Prada?

Re:Hagfish by GAP (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42207013)

Yes but
Green - 100% Organic and Renewable Highly Durable Poseidon Thread Khaki's by Atlantis Wear only available at "The Gap" would do quite well.
Atlantis Wear improving on technology 300 million years in devlopment

Re:Hagfish by GAP (2)

HCase (533294) | about a year ago | (#42209771)

A common theme in the fish world is to be given an ugly name until someone finds a good use for you.(though, generally the use is eating)

slimehead->orange roughy
rockfish->pacific red snapper
dogfish->rock salmon
pilchard->cornish sardine
etc...

Re:Hagfish by GAP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42213085)

I had no problems with the name related to eating dogfish, but I did my time in Korea.

The name for rockfish, though, I confuse with stonefish... better that way than the other, at least in the wild.

As seen on TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42206841)

This was shown on in one section of "Richard Hammond's Miracles of Nature", available via your favourite torrent site.

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42207143)

There goes the population of this fish...to be found useful in the world as it currently is is to effectively be handed a death sentence.

Re:Well (2)

Vaphell (1489021) | about a year ago | (#42208485)

are you kidding? useful pigs, cows and chickens are nowhere near extinction.

Re:Well (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#42209883)

If it is tasty and easy to raise then it will be one of the last creatures to ever go extinct.

If it is tasty and hard to raise then it will be harvested to extinction.

Replace tasty with useful if you want.

Just throwing it out there... (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#42207161)

The fish needs a better name if this does take off, Hagfish is not viable from a marketing standpoint. Also the slime needs a more scientific name: Hagis Slimus shirts anyone?

Re:Just throwing it out there... (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#42207437)

The fish needs a better name if this does take off, Hagfish is not viable from a marketing standpoint. Also the slime needs a more scientific name: Hagis Slimus shirts anyone?

You obviously don't work in marketing, here: Slilk

Re:Just throwing it out there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42211185)

Remember, Chinese Gooseberries got rebranded as Kiwi Fruit. Someone will think of something more appealing.

Re:Just throwing it out there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42213931)

Are you referring to the "Hairy Bush Fruit" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiwifruit#Names ?

Re:Just throwing it out there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42208515)

I don't know, "hagspun" clothing has a collection of interesting implications based on culture, and how much D&D someone has played.

parents would say: (0)

RobertLTux (260313) | about a year ago | (#42207523)

let me know when i can buy tights/pants for my kid using this.

you can be raising the fruffiest Princess Ever but if she trips while skipping down the lane those tights are TOAST

Slash Parents can i get a

SO SAY WE ALL
?

Re:parents would say: (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#42208145)

let me know when i can buy tights/pants for my kid using this.

you can be raising the fruffiest Princess Ever but if she trips while skipping down the lane those tights are TOAST

Slash Parents can i get a

SO SAY WE ALL
?

Tripping and scraping up knees is a valuable part of childhood. It teaches you to pay attention to what you are doing and to dress properly for every occasion.

Re:parents would say: (2)

RobertLTux (260313) | about a year ago | (#42208907)

yes true but not having nasty bits of rock jammed into ones knees (and having scarred up skin on her knees) would be a good thing.

It would still HURT but it would be a lot less nasty

Slime? Really? (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about a year ago | (#42207525)

What happened to hemp? I could support hemp.

Having the ability to create a 20 liter cloud of slime and tie themselves in knots, hagfish have always been one of my favorite deep-sea denizens.

Your fetishes are not really appropriate for a public forum.

Re:Slime? Really? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#42213905)

What happened to hemp? I could support hemp.

It's expensive to produce a fabric which is almost as nice as cotton, and it's a heavy feeder (the morons like Jack Herer (RIP) who claim it doesn't deplete the soil know jack about shit and fuck about all) and efficient production requires cultivation equipment which nobody makes (though they did for a short while, see Hemp for Victory) so it's just expensive to no good end at this point.

On the other hand, cotton crops worldwide are going tits up due to climate change, so we might all be wearing a lot of it pretty soon.

Egon Spengler? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42208583)

Anytime I see an article with the name of a character from a classic movie, in this case Ghostbusters, I get suspicious.

the next step is possession (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42211571)

But I need 3 runes before I can do that.

Well, that clears that up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42212237)

"Having the ability to create a 20 liter cloud of slime and tie themselves in knots, hagfish have always been one of my favorite deep-sea denizens."

Well, if there was any doubt that you're creepy and weird, that's settled now.

Egon Spengler? Slime? .....we've got one!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42213511)

Well, they found something weird, who did they call :-)

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...