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Home > News > Making Spider-Strength Materials

August 3rd, 2010

Making Spider-Strength Materials

Abstract:
Researchers have been trying to make artificial spider silk--a lightweight, tougher-than-steel material that could have countless industrial applications--for decades. In an important step toward that goal, researchers at Tufts University have created genetically engineered microbes that produce more of the proteins needed to make spider silk than ever before.

Dragline silk--the type spiders use for the rims and spokes of their webs--is tougher and far lighter than steel. Engineered bacteria can produce the proteins needed to synthesize this silk, which is spun together to make fibers. However, previous efforts to make spider silk using bacteria have been hamstrung for several reasons. First, researchers have had an incomplete picture of the dragline silk gene sequence. And second, they've had limited success in modifying the bacteria to produce enough of the proteins.

Source:
technologyreview.com

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