A Silkworm Which Produces Spider’s Thread? Now a Reality.

Twenty times harder to cut than steel, but with the natural beauty of silk.

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Makoto Katsuragi
Makoto Katsuragi

XAMOSCHi WEB Direcor

The National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (in Ibaraki prefecture, Tsukuba city)  has succeeded in creating a silkworm which produces a new type of fiber that combines the strength and toughness of spiders thread with the quality of silk. The new fiber, a “High-Toughness Silk Produced by a Transgenic Silkworm Expressing Spider”, is twenty times harder to cut than steel. The results have been published in the U.S. science magazine PLoS One.

 

Features

●Spider thread is strong and tough to sever.

●Because spiders are both carnivorous and cannibalistic, it is not possible to create large volumes of spiders thread through mass breeding.

●The proteins found in spider thread are very similar in structure to that found in silk thread produced by silkworms.

●If silkworms could be made to produce spider thread, the results could be used to make fibers right away.

●This opens the way for actual production using machinery.

●Spider thread silk is 1.5 times tougher than natural silk, and twenty times tougher than steel.

●We can expect many new applications for this fibre, ranging from surgical sutures and similar medical products, to rescue ropes and protective clothing.

 

Responses from the Web

But they’ll get stuck in their own cocoons and die right?  :{
>The vertical threads (warp) wont get stuck together. That’s the horizontal ones (weft).

Here comes spiderman.

Why not just raise spiders and get their thread directly?
>Spiders tend to eat each other so its hard to raise them in large numbers.

So they make some kind of drug that can get the spider to just pump out thread all the time?
> The aim is to take the structure of silk protein and replace a part of it with that of spider thread. So it is still 100% silk, but much stronger.

I don’t really understand all that well, but you can cut spider thread pretty easily right? Getting it to be twenty times stronger than steel means putting it in a bundle or something?
>Yeah, that’s gotta be a comparison based on having the same thickness. If you made steel as thin as spiders thread I guess it would just break at the touch.

Just by being 1.5 times as tough as natural silk it is twenty times as tough as steel huh?

 

Translated by Daniel Burke

 

Source:
http://www.nias.affrc.go.jp/press/2014/20140827/
http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0105325

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