#Spider silk evolution

Spider on silk All spiders, across more than 45,000 species, produce some kind of silk. Silk is used for everything from sticking sand grains together to spinning dragline fibers or snaring prey by hand. It is assembled into trap doors, orb webs, and diving bells. A highly structured and hierarchical protein material, silk can take the form of sticky glues, nanofibrous mats, bundles of threads, or thin ribbons, and can exhibit a wide range of mechanical properties. How does evolution fine-tune and modify such a complex phenotype over time? We are combining (1) transcriptomics and proteomics research on spider silk with (2) cutting edge microCT analysis of silk gland morphology and (3) the physics of protein assembly to understand this remarkable relationship.

Project Team Members: Rob Campbell, Graduate Student, OIST (Japan) Alexander (Sasha) Mikheyev, PI, OIST (Japan) and ANU (Australia)