Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The future of biomaterial manufacturing: Spider silk production from bacteria

Date:
July 18, 2012
Source:
The Journal of Visualized Experiments
Summary:
New research demonstrates procedures to harvest and process synthetic spider silk from bacteria. The procedure revolutionizes the spider silk purification process by standardizing a key step known as "post-spin."

Spider silk is "spun" by a syringe, and stored in isopropanol to fully equilibrate.
Credit: JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments

A new video article in JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments, demonstrates procedures to harvest and process synthetic spider silk from bacteria.

Related Articles


The procedure presented in the video article revolutionizes the spider silk purification process by standardizing a key step known as "post-spin." In this step, silk molecules are stretched by a mechanical actuator to increase fiber strength. These mechanical improvements produce uniform spider silk and remove human error from the spinning process. As a result, the synthetic silk is much closer to the natural fibers produced by the female black widow spider than what was previously possible, and the procedure provides a scalable ground work to utilize spider silk in material manufacturing.

Due to their mechanical properties, synthetic spider silks have numerous manufacturing and industrial applications. Of particular interest is the high tensile strength of black widow silk, which is comparable to Kevlar in strength, but is lighter and of a lower density. If scientists could reproduce the mechanical properties of spider spun silk in the laboratory, the material could be used to replace Kevlar, carbon fiber and steel. Increased production of this new biomaterial will have an impact on a wide variety of products where spider silk's properties are valuable, ranging from bulletproof vests and aircraft bodies to bridge cables and medical sutures.

While scientists have been able to produce spider silk with the same biochemical integrity of the natural fibers for some time, it has remained difficult to mimic a spider's "post-spin" techniques. The natural post-spin process stretches the fiber in order to align the fiber molecules, and increases the fiber's tensile strength. To solve this problem, Dr. Craig Vierra from the University of the Pacific developed a technique that removes human variability by using a mechanical actuator. Built by Dr. Vierra and his laboratory group, the mechanical actuator can reliably stretch fibers to a specified length, mimicking the spider's natural post-spin. Dr. Vierra tells us, "The procedure decreases the variance in the mechanical properties that are seen. Before this procedure, there was a tremendous amount of variation in synthetic fibers."

Dr. Vierra continues his work with black widow spiders and synthetic silk production. "We're working on fusing what we've learned here and expanding the procedure en masse." Eventually, the lab aims to make spider silk a renewable resource for material production that may change how we engineer the future. Concerning publication in JoVE, Dr. Vierra notes the decision was made because, "The visual representation is significant because most research articles don't go into the step by step procedure (to collect spider silk). Also, many of the processes need a visual representation to fully grasp."

Vierra et. al.: http://www.jove.com/video/4191/synthetic-spider-silk-production-on-a-laboratory-scale


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Journal of Visualized Experiments. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hsia, Y., Gnesa, E., Pacheco, R., Kohler, K., Jeffery, F., Vierra, C. Synthetic Spider Silk Production on a Laboratory Scale. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 2012; 65: e4191 DOI: 10.3791/4191

Cite This Page:

The Journal of Visualized Experiments. "The future of biomaterial manufacturing: Spider silk production from bacteria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718122826.htm>.
The Journal of Visualized Experiments. (2012, July 18). The future of biomaterial manufacturing: Spider silk production from bacteria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718122826.htm
The Journal of Visualized Experiments. "The future of biomaterial manufacturing: Spider silk production from bacteria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718122826.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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