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Web weaving skills provide clues to aging, spider study reveals

Date:
July 2, 2011
Source:
Society for Experimental Biology
Summary:
Young house spiders weave webs with perfect angles and regular patterns, but as they reach old age their webs deteriorate, showing gaping holes and erratic weaving. By using spiders as a simple model, new research may provide insight into how age affects behavior in other organisms, including humans.

Left: This web was woven by a 17-day-old spider, showing regular patterns. Right: This web was woven by a 188 day old spider, showing irregularity and holes.
Credit: Mylθne Anotaux

Young house spiders weave webs with perfect angles and regular patterns, but as they reach old age their webs deteriorate, showing gaping holes and erratic weaving.

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By using spiders as a simple model this research may provide insight into how age affects behaviour in other organisms, including humans.

The reason web building skills are lost as spiders grow older may be due to degeneration of the central nervous system. PhD researcher, Mylθne Anotaux, from Nancy University in France, says "Our next steps will be to understand whether age-induced changes in the central nervous system are behind the differences in behaviour we have found."

"Because of the importance of understanding the underlying behavioural mechanisms of aging in humans, investigating simple animal models that assess aging mechanisms is essential," says Miss Anotaux.

This research, which is being presented at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Conference in Glasgow, used a common European house spider Zygiella x-notata, its short life span (around 12 months) and simple nervous system making it an ideal organism to shed light on the complexities of how aging can affect behaviour.

The webs of the spiders were assessed throughout their lifetime using measures such as the regularity of web structure, angles between the strands and whether there were any holes.


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The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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Society for Experimental Biology. "Web weaving skills provide clues to aging, spider study reveals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110701203728.htm>.
Society for Experimental Biology. (2011, July 2). Web weaving skills provide clues to aging, spider study reveals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110701203728.htm
Society for Experimental Biology. "Web weaving skills provide clues to aging, spider study reveals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110701203728.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

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