Here’s how a mussel’s “beard” helps it hang tight and let loose

From Science Magazine.

The Byssus End of the Mussel. In order to withstand the crashing waves, mussels have strong filaments called byssal threads to help them stick to rocky surfaces with surprising strength. When needed, the bivalves can also release these threads with seemingly little effort. Deeper investigation and imaging revealed that friction between cilia in the living tissue and the nonliving byssal threads help the mussel hold tight. Injections with serotonin, which is known to decrease cilia activity in mussels, made the byssus easier to remove, indicating that some kind of neurotransmitter signal may be involved in the quick release of the byssus. This surprising phenomenon has researchers wondering if some version of this tight hold and easy release could become part of future biomedical implants.

Read the research paper here: