Spider web glue spins society toward new biobased adhesives

October 21, 2009
A sticky substance in spider webs may lead to the development of a new generation of biobased adhesives and glues that could replace some petroleum-based products. Credit: Randolph Femmer, National Biological Information Infrastructure

With would-be goblins and ghosts set to drape those huge fake spider webs over doorways and trees for Halloween, scientists in Wyoming are reporting on a long-standing mystery about real spider webs: It is the secret of spider web glue. The findings are an advance toward a new generation of biobased adhesives and glues — "green" glues that replace existing petroleum-based products for a range of uses. A report on the study is in the October issue of ACS' Biomacromolecules.

Omer Choresh and colleagues note that much research has been done on spider web silk, which rivals steel in its strength. However, scientists know comparatively little about web glue, which coats the silk threads and is among the world's strongest biological glues. Past studies revealed that spiders make web glue from glycoproteins, or proteins bits of sugar attached.

The scientists analyzed web glue from the golden orb weaving spider, noted for spinning intricate webs. They identified two new glycoproteins in the glue and showed that domains of these proteins were produced from opposite strands of the same DNA. "Once the cloned genes are over expressed in systems such as insect or bacterial cell cultures, large-scale production of the can be used to develop a new biobased glue for a variety of purposes," the report notes.

More information: "Spider Web Glue: Two Proteins Expressed from Opposite Strands of the Same DNA Sequence", Biomacromolecules, pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/bm900681w

Source: American Chemical Society (news : web)

Explore further: Fascinating Spider Silk

Related Stories

Fascinating Spider Silk

April 4, 2007

Stronger than steel and more elastic than rubber: spider silk is unsurpassed in its expandability, resistance to tearing, and toughness. Spider silk would be an ideal material for a large variety of medical and technical ...

Recommended for you

A new form of real gold, almost as light as air

November 25, 2015

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible ...

Getting under the skin of a medieval mystery

November 23, 2015

A simple PVC eraser has helped an international team of scientists led by bioarchaeologists at the University of York to resolve the mystery surrounding the tissue-thin parchment used by medieval scribes to produce the first ...

Moonlighting molecules: Finding new uses for old enzymes

November 27, 2015

A collaboration between the University of Cambridge and MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, has led researchers to identify a potentially significant new application for a well-known ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.