Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Adam B. Braunschweig

Committee Members

Mandë Holford

Shana Elbaum-Garfinkle

George John

David Kisailus

Subject Categories



Mucus, omics, materials, biochemistry, animals, genetics


Mucus is one of Nature’s most abundant and versatile biomaterials. These secretions are present in all animals, from the lowly garden snail to the great blue whale, and fulfill a multitude of functions, acting as antimicrobial barriers, moisturizers, adhesive glues, surface lubricants, and mineralizing agents. Despite their importance, very little is known about mucus compositions or properties. The largest challenge precluding the greater understanding of mucus function is its complexity; a single mucus contains complex mixtures of proteins, glycans, and ions that all have important roles in function. Therefore, understanding mucus function necessitates analysis that compares different mucus from one animal, or mucus of the same function from different species, and this approach must characterize mucus across the molecular-to-macroscopic continuum.

This thesis aims to characterize the compositions and properties of animal mucus, determine the methods that best interrogate these materials, and justify the need to do so. Chapter 1 highlights secreted animal mucus diversity in Nature. Chapter 2 demonstrates our integrative omics approach comparing three mucus of different functions from the garden snail, Cornu aspersum. The Epilogue concludes with a call to expand mucus characterization efforts amidst a global biodiversity crisis.

Included in

Biochemistry Commons