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Structural characterization of the buccal mass of Ariolimax californicus (Gastropoda; Stylommatophora).


Biological materials such as chiton tooth, squid beak, and byssal threads of bivalves have inspired the development of new technologies. To this end, we have characterized the acellular components in the buccal mass of the terrestrial slug Ariolimax californicus (banana slug). These components are the radula, the jaw, and the odontophore. In the radula, calcium-rich denticles are tightly interlocked one to the other on top of a nanofibrous chitin membrane. The jaw has a nanostructured morphology made of chitin to achieve compression resistance and is directly linked to the foregut cuticle, which has a protective nanofibrous structure. Finally, in the odontophore, we observed a structurally elastic microstructure that interfaces soft tissues with a highly stressed radula membrane. Based on those observations, we discuss the interaction between these components and highlight how the materials in these task-specific components have evolved. This structure-properties-function study of the A. californicus' buccal mass may aid in the design and fabrication of novel bioinspired materials.

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