J. Herbert Waite

Distinguished Professor

Contact Phone

(805) 893-2817

Office Location

3154 Marine Biotech



Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. A.B. 1967-1971 Biochemistry
Duke University, Durham, NC Ph.D. 1972-1976 Biochemistry
Copenhagen University, Denmark Post-Doc 1976-1978 Biochemistry
University of Connecticut, Farmington, CT Post-Doc 1979-1981
ONR Research Fellow, Duke University, 1972-1976
NSF-NATO Post-Doctoral Fellow, 1976-1978
PHS Service Award Fellow, University of Connecticut, 1978-1980
Professor, College of Marine Studies & Dept of Chemistry, University of Delaware, 1991-1998
Harrington Chair in Marine Biochemistry, 1998
Professor, Dept. Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California at Santa Barbara, 1999-present


Research Group Website: https://labs.mcdb.ucsb.edu/waite/herbert/

Research Objective

It is self-evident that man-made adhesives do not stick very well to wet surfaces. This simple technological limitation has had a profound influence on the way that manufacturing, medical, and building practices have evolved in human society. Marine organisms such as barnacles, limpets, kelps, and mussels, however, produce glues that do very well underwater. Until recently, little was known about the chemical and physical mechanisms of such biological attachment, except that some organisms rely on temporary adhesives, while in others, adhesion is permanent.

Mussels such as Mytilus attach themselves to surfaces by making a bundle of threads collectively referred to as the byssus. Byssal threads are permanent holdfasts and extraordinary biomolecular materials; they are strong, rapidly made, durable and adhere to a wide variety of surfaces including glass, metal, paraffin and bone. A careful morphological examination of byssus reveals it to be a complex composite material with at least four functional domains: load-bearing fibers, microcellular solids, sealants and adhesion promoters. Our research is committed to understanding how byssal threads are made and, in particular, how they adhere to wet surfaces. The first step is the characterization of proteins from each functional domain. This was very difficult given the leathery and insoluble nature of the byssus.

A few years ago, we accidentally discovered that byssal curing could be impeded by subjecting mussels to a cold temperature shock. This seemingly simple perturbation has lead to characterization of a font of exotic proteins previously locked in place by a cross-linked network. We are using protein chemistry, molecular biology and a variety of physical methods including laser mass spectrometry, solid-state nmr and atomic force microscopy to reveal sequence, structure and solution behavior. Our aim is ultimately to process the appropriate protein(s) into useful applications that mimic their adapted functions in the mussels.


Selected Research Publications

Lee, B. P., Messersmith, P. B., Israelachvili, J. N., Waite, J. H. (2011) Mussel inspired wet adhesives and coatings. Annual Review of Materials Research 41: in press

Rubin, D.J., Miserez, A., and Waite, J.H. (2011). Diverse strategies of protein sclerotization in marine invertebrates. Advances in Insect Physiology 38: 75-133

Miserez, A., Rubin, D.J., & Waite, J.H. (2010) Cross-linking chemistry of squid beak. J. Biol. Chem. doi:10.1074/jbc.M110.161174

Anderson, T. H., Yu, J., Estrada, E., Hammer, M., Waite, J.H., & Israelachvili, J.N. (2010). The contribution of DOPA to substrate–peptide adhesion and internal cohesion of mussel-inspired synthetic peptide films. Advanced Functional Materials DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201000932

Hwang, D. S., J. H. Waite, and Tirrell, M. V. (2010). Promotion of osteoblast proliferation on complex coacervation-based hyaluronic acid and recombinant mussel adhesive protein coatings on titanium. Biomaterials 31, 1080-1084.

Harrington, M. J., Masic, A., Holten-Andersen, N., Waite, J. H., and Fratzl, P. (2010). Ironclad fibers: a metal-based biological strategy for hard flexible coatings. Science 328: 216-220.

Hwang, D.S., Zeng, H., Srivastava, A., Krogstad, D. V., Tirrell, M., Israelachvili, J. N., and Waite, J. H. (2009). Viscosity and interfacial properties in a mussel-inspired coacervate. Soft Matter 6: 3232-3236.

Zeng, H., Hwang, D. S., Israelachvili, J. N., and Waite, J. H. (2010). Strong reversible Fe3+ mediated bridging between Dopa-containing protein films in water. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 107: 12850-12853.

Hwang, D. S., Zeng, H., Harrington, M.J., Masic, A., Fratzl, P., Israelachvili, J. N., and Waite, J. H. (2010). Fe3+-dependent cohesion of a prominent protein of mussel adhesive plaques. J. Biol. Chem. 285: 25850-25858.

Zhao, H., Sagert, J., Hwang, D. S. and Waite (2009) Glycosylated hydroxytroptophan in a mussel adhesive protein from Perna viridis. J. Biol. Chem. 284: 23344–23352.

McKenna, B. J., Waite, J. H., and Stucky, G. D. (2009). Biomimetic control of calcite morphology with homopolyanions. Crystal Growth & Design 9: 4912-4921.

Holten Andersen, N., Toprak, M., Stucky, G. D., Zok, F. W. & J. H. Waite (2009) Metals and the integrity of a biological coating: The cuticle of mussel byssus. Langmuir 25: 3323-3326

Srivastava, A., Waite, J. H., Stucky, G., & Mikhailovsky, A. (2009) Fluorescence investigations into complex coacervation between polyvinylimidazole and sodium alginate. Macromolecules 42: 2168-2176

Holten Andersen, N., Zhao, H., & Waite, J.H. (2009). Stiff coatings on compliant biofibers: The cuticle of Mytilus californianus byssal threads. Biochemistry 48: 2752–2759

Harrington, M. J., Gupta, H. S., Fratzl, P., and Waite, J. H. (2009) Collagen insulated from tensile damage by domains that unfold reversibly: in situ X-ray investigation of mechanical yield and damage repair in the mussel byssus. J. Struct. Biol. 167: 47–54

Sun, C. J., Srivastava, A., Reifert, J. R., and Waite, J. H. (2009) Halogenated DOPA in a marine adhesive protein. Journal of Adhesion 85: 126–138.

Miserez, A., Wasko, S. S., Carpenter, C. F., and Waite, J. H. (2009) Non-Entropic and reversible long range deformation of an encapsulating bioelastomer. Nature Materials 8: 910-916.

Kausik, R., Srivastava, A., Korevaar, P., Stucky¬¬¬, G. D., Waite, J. H., and Han, S. (2009) Local water dynamics in coacervated polyelectrolytes monitored through dynamic nuclear polarization-enhanced 1H NMR. Macromolecules 42: 7404-7412.

Sagert, J., and Waite, J. H. (2009) Hyperunstable matrix proteins in the byssus of Mytilus galloprovincialis. J. Exp. Biol. 212: 2224-2236.

Broomell, C. C., Zok, F. W., Waite, J. H. ((2008) Role of transition metals in sclerotization of biological tissue. Acta Biomaterialia 4: 2045–2051

Lichtenegger, H. C., Birkedal, H., and Waite, J. H. (2008) Heavy metals in the jaws of invertebrates. Met. Ions Life Sci. 4: 295–325

Broomell, C. C., Chase, S. F. Laue, T., and Waite, J. H. (2008) Cutting edge structural protein from the jaws of Nereis virens. Biomacromolecules 9: 1669–1677

Waite, J. H. (2008) Mussel power. Nature Materials 7: 8-9.

Holten-Andersen, N, and Waite, J. H. (2008) Mussel-designed protective coatings for compliant substrates. Journal of Dental Research 87: 701-709.

Srivastava, A., Holten-Andersen, N., Stucky, G. D., and Waite, J. H. (2008) Ragworm jaw-inspired metal ion cross-linking for improved mechanical properties of polymer blends. Biomacromolecules, 9: 2873–2880.

Harrington, M. J., and Waite, J.H. (2008) pH-Dependent locking of giant mesogens in fibers drawn from mussel byssal collagens. Biomacromolecules 9: 1480–1486

Harrington, M. J. and Waite, J. H. (2008) How nature modulates a fiber’s mechanical properties: mechanically distinct fibers drawn from natural mesogenic block copolymer variants. Advanced Materials 20: 1–5.

Broomell, C. C., Chase, S. F., Laue, T., and Waite, J. H. (2008) Cutting edge structural protein from the jaws of Nereis virens. Biomacromolecules 9: 1669–1677.

Miserez, A., Schneberk, T., Sun, C.J., Zok, F. W., and Waite, J. H. (2008) The transition from stiff to compliant materials in squid beaks. Science 319: 1816-1819.

Harrington, M., and Waite, J.H. (2007) Holdfast heroics: Comparing Mytilus californianus. Journal of Experimental Biology 210: 4307-4318.

Pontin, M. G., Moses, D. N. Waite, J. H. and Zok, F. W. (2007) A non-mineralized approach to abrasion resistant biomaterials. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 104: 13559-13564.

Moses, D. N., Pontin, M. G., Waite, J. H. and Zok, F. W. (2008) Effects of hydration on mechanical properties of a highly sclerotized tissue. Biophysical Journal 94: 3266-3272.

Toprak, T.S., McKenna, B. J., Mikhaylova, M., Waite, J. H., and Stucky, G. D. (2007) Spontaneous assembly of magnetic microspheres. Adv. Mater. 19: 1362–1368

Broomell, C. C., Khan, R. K., Moses, D. N., Miserez, A., Pontin, M. G., Stucky, G. D., Zok, F. W., and Waite, J. H. (2007) Mineral minimization in nature’s alternative to teeth. J. R. Soc. Interface 4: 12-31.

Holten-Andersen, N., Fantner, G. E., S. Hohlbauch, J. H. Waite and F. W. Zok (2007) Protective coatings on extensible biofibers. Nature Materials 6: 669-672.

Toprak, T.S., McKenna, B. J., Waite, J. H. and Stucky, G. D. (2007) Control of size and permeability of naonocomposite microspheres. Chem. Materials 19: 4263-4269.

Sun, C. J., Fantner, G. E., Adams, J., Hansma, P. K., and Waite, J. H. (2007) The role of calcium and magnesium in the concrete tubes of the sandcastle worm. J Exp Biol 210: 1481-1488

Lin, Q., Gourdon, D., Sun, C. J., Holten-Andersen, N., Anderson, T. H., Waite, J. H., and Israelachvili, J. N. (2007) Adhesion mechanisms of the mussel foot proteins mfp-1 and mfp-3. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 104: 3782-3786.

Miserez, A., Li, Y., Waite, J.H., and Zok, F. (2007) Jumbo squid beaks: Inspiration for design of robust organic composites. Acta Biomaterialia 3: 139-149.