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Snail & Fungi Roundup

February 12, 2015

Batteries from snail shell proteins and medicines from carnivorous mushrooms.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Martin Cooper flickr oyster mushroom

A carnivorous oyster mushroom uses specialized proteins to punch holes in nematodes. (Martin Cooper/flickr)

Snail-based batteries. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The intricate structure of a snail shell is created by peptide molecules that organize layers of calcium carbonate. Graduate student Evgenia Barannikova at the University of Maryland Baltimore County was inspired by the mollusks to use peptides to produce high performance components for lithium ion batteries. She described the biologically-inspired batteries at the annual meeting of the Biophysical Society.

In other news, a carnivorous mushroom that eats spiders and worms kills its prey using proteins that punch holes in the creatures’ cells. The action is similar to the way our immune cells kill germs, and in the journal PLOS Biology, researchers say studying the mushrooms could yield new treatments for a variety of disorders.

Finally, the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science kicks off this week, and we’ll have reports each day at scienceupdate.com. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.