The functions of secreted animal mucuses are remarkably diverse and include lubricants, wet adhesives, protective barriers, and mineralizing agents. Although present in all animals, many open questions related to the hierarchical architectures, material properties, and genetics of mucus remain. Here, we summarize what is known about secreted mucus structure, describe the work of research groups throughout the world who are investigating various animal mucuses, and relate how these studies are revealing new mucus properties and the relationships between mucus hierarchical structure and hydrogel function. Finally, we call for a more systematic approach to studying animal mucuses so that data sets can be compared, omics-style, to address unanswered questions in the emerging field of mucomics. One major result that we anticipate from these efforts is design rules for creating new materials that are inspired by the structures and functions of animal mucuses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering