The bacterium Caulobacter crescentus uses the toughest glue on Earth to
stick to river rocks, and now scientists are trying to figure out how
to produce the stuff.

adhesive can withstand an enormous amount of stress, equal to the force
felt by a quarter with more than three cars piled on top of it. That’s
two to three times more force than the best retail glues can handle.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.The single-celled bacterium uses sugar molecules to stay put in
rivers, streams, and water pipes, a new study found. It’s not clear how
the glue actually works, however, but researchers presume some special
proteins must be attached to the sugars.

"There are obvious applications since this adhesive works on wet
surfaces," said study leader Yves Brun, an Indiana University
bacteriologist. "One possibility would be as a biodegradable surgical

Engineers could use the superior stickum too, Brun and colleagues say.

But making it has proved challenging. Like a mess of chewing gum,
the gunk globs to everything, including the tools used to create it.

"We tried washing the glue off," Brun said. "It didn’t work."

The research, announced by the university Friday, will be detailed in the April 11 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

By Corey Binns