Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hybrid silkworms spin stronger spider silk

Date:
January 7, 2012
Source:
University of Notre Dame
Summary:
Silk produced by transgenically engineered silkworms in the lab exhibit the highly sought-after strength and elasticity of spider silk. This stronger silk could possibly be used to make sutures, artificial limbs and parachutes.

Silk made with spider silk sequences.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Notre Dame

Research was published this week showing that silk produced by transgenically engineered silkworms in the laboratory of Malcolm Fraser Jr., professor of biological sciences at University of Notre Dame, exhibits the highly sought-after strength and elasticity of spider silk. This stronger silk could possibly be used to make sutures, artificial limbs and parachutes.

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and highlighted for their breakthrough in the long search for silk with such mechanical properties. The manuscript was published after an in-depth peer review process, and was deemed by the publishers as a newsworthy article of the issue in which it appears, further indicating its relative importance to science and technology.

"It's something nobody has done before," Fraser says. The project, which used Fraser's piggyBac vectors to create transgenic silkworms with both silkworm and spider silk proteins, was a collaboration of his laboratory with Donald Jarvis and Randolph Lewis at the University of Wyoming. Jarvis' lab made the transgene plasmids, while Fraser's lab made the transgenic silkworms and Lewis' lab analyzed the fiber from the silkworms. Results showed that the fibers were tougher than typical silkworm silk and as tough as dragline silk fibers produced by spiders, demonstrating that silkworms can be engineered to produce such improved fibers.

Commercial production of spider silk from spiders is impractical because spiders are too cannibalistic and territorial for farming. Researchers have experimented with producing the stronger material in other organisms, including bacteria, insects, mammals and plants, but those proteins require mechanical spinning -- a task the silkworms perform naturally. The stronger fiber could find application in sutures, where some natural silkworm silk is used, as well as wound dressings, artificial ligaments, tendons, tissue scaffolds, microcapsules, cosmetics and textiles.

This work is the culmination of a research effort begun more than 10 years ago with an internal award from Notre Dame to Fraser to develop silkworm transgenics capabilities; a two-year NIH R21 grant awarded to Jarvis, Lewis and Fraser; and several years of supplemental funding from Kraig BioCraft Laboratories. The success of this research would have been impossible without the ability to carry out silkworm transgenesis, mastered by Bong-hee Sohn and Young-soo Kim in the Fraser lab at Notre Dame.

Kraig Biocraft Laboratories Inc., with Fraser, Lewis and Jarvis on its scientific board, is currently evaluating several business opportunities for this first generation fiber for both textile and non-textile use. The researchers ultimately expect to improve on the first-generation product to make even stronger fibers.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Notre Dame. The original article was written by Marissa Gebhard. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. F. Teule, Y.-G. Miao, B.-H. Sohn, Y.-S. Kim, J. J. Hull, M. J. Fraser, R. V. Lewis, D. L. Jarvis. Silkworms transformed with chimeric silkworm/spider silk genes spin composite silk fibers with improved mechanical properties. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1109420109

Cite This Page:

University of Notre Dame. "Hybrid silkworms spin stronger spider silk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120106113037.htm>.
University of Notre Dame. (2012, January 7). Hybrid silkworms spin stronger spider silk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120106113037.htm
University of Notre Dame. "Hybrid silkworms spin stronger spider silk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120106113037.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

AP (Apr. 21, 2014) Breakfast is now being served with a side of sticker shock. The cost of morning staples like bacon, coffee and orange juice is on the rise because of global supply problems. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins