Scientists Find Shark Organ Jelly Has Extremely High Proton Conductivity

Posted on May 16, 2016

Scientists have determined that shark organ jelly has extremely high proton conductivity. An organ called the Ampullae of Lorenzini allows sharks, skate fish, and rays to detect very weak electric fields produced by potential prey. Scientists still don't know exactly how the electrosensing organ works but the jelly conductivity discover could lead to a solution.

The ampullae of Lorenzini are seen as small pores in the skin around the head and the underside of sharks. The pores are open to the environment. They are connected to a set of electrosensory cells by a long canal that is filled with a clear, viscous jelly - the shark organ jelly. Scientists at UC Santa Cruz found this jelly has the highest proton conductivity ever reported for a biological material. Its conductivity is only 40 times lower than the current state-of-the-art proton-conducting polymer.

Marco Rolandi, associate professor of electrical engineering at UC Santa Cruz, says in a statement, "The observation of high proton conductivity in the jelly is very exciting. We hope that our findings may contribute to future studies of the electrosensing function of the ampullae of Lorenzini and of the organ overall, which is itself rather exceptional."

The research paper, "Proton conductivity in ampullae of Lorenzini jelly," was published here in the journal Science Advances.

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