The ability to control nanostructure shape and dimensions presents opportunities to design materials in which their macroscopic properties are dependent upon the nature of the nanoparticle. Although particle morphology has been recognized as a crucial parameter, the exploitation of the potential shape-dependent properties has, to date, been limited. Herein, we demonstrate that nanoparticle shape is a critical consideration in the determination of nanocomposite hydrogel properties. Using translationally relevant calcium-alginate hydrogels, we show that the use of poly(L-lactide)-based nanoparticles with platelet morphology as an adhesive results in a significant enhancement of adhesion over nanoparticle glues comprised of spherical or cylindrical micelles. Furthermore, gel nanocomposites containing platelets showed an enhanced resistance to breaking under strain compared to their spherical and cylindrical counterparts. This study opens the doors to a change in direction in the field of gel nanocomposites, where nanoparticle shape plays an important role in tuning mechanical properties.
The sensory end organs of the inner ear of the lungfish, Protopterus, were examined using scanning and transmission electron microscopy. The utricle has a structure and hair cell orientation pattern that are typical for vertebrates, although the hair cells are unusually large. There are the typical three semicircular canals extending from the utricle, with the typical hair cell orientations, but the lateral canal sensory crista looks like the "hemicrista" of some amphibians and amniotes, lacking a saddle-shaped flare on one wall of the ampulla. Unlike most vertebrates that have the saccule and lagena as two separate pouches ventral to the utricle, the lungfish has a single large ventral pouch that contains a single large pasty otoconial mass. This mass covers two hair cell patches, each like a striola with prominent hair cell ciliary bundles, that are presumed to represent saccular and lagenar maculae. However, these two major sensory patches are not completely separate maculae because they lie within a less densely populated field of smaller hair cells, which forms an extrastriolar region that surrounds and fills the region between the two striolae of higher hair cell density. The more caudal lagenar striola is a vertically elongated stripe with hair cell orientation vectors facing antiparallel on either side of a midline drawn vertically along the macula, resembling the macula lagena of some bony fishes but not of tetrapods. The more rostral saccular striola is a curving band with hair cell orientation vectors facing away from its midline, but because this macula curves in three dimensions, the vectors at the rostral end of this striola are oriented mediolaterally, whereas the vectors on the caudal half of this striola are oriented dorsoventrally. The presence of a macula neglecta was confirmed near the posterior canal as a tiny single patch of a few dozen hair cells with all the cell orientations directed caudally. The ciliary bundles on the cells in the striolar-like regions of all of three otolithic organs average over 80 cilia, a number far greater than for any other fish studied to date. The features of the single sacculolagenar pouch with separate striolar-like regions, the cellular orientation in the otolith organs, and the large cells and ciliary bundles in Protopterus also were observed in specimens of the other extant lungfish genera, Lepidosiren and Neoceratodus.
The inner ears of a few fishes in the teleost superorder Ostariophysi are structurally unlike those of most other teleosts. Scanning electron microscopy was used to determine if other ostariophysans share these unusual features. Examined were the families Cyprinidae, Characidae, and Gymnotidae (all of the series Otophysi), and Chanidae (of the sister series Anotophysi), representing the four major ostariophysan lineages, the auditory organs of which have not yet been well described. Among the Otophysi, the saccular and lagenar otolith organs are similar to those reported for other ostariophysans. The lagena is generally the larger of the two organs. The saccular sensory epithelium (macula) contains long ciliary bundles on the sensory hair cells in the caudal region, and short bundles in the rostral region. The saccule and the lagena each have hair cells organized into two groups having opposing directional orientations. In contrast, Chanos, the anotophysan, has a saccular otolith larger than the lagenar otolith, and ciliary bundles that are more uniform in size over most of its saccular macula. Most strikingly, its saccular macula has hair cells organized into groups oriented in four directions instead of two, in a pattern very similar to that in many nonostariophysan teleosts. We suggest that the bi-directional pattern seen consistently in the Otophysi is a derived development related to particular auditory capabilities of these species.
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