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Regina Bailey

Spider Silk Producing Bacteria

By July 29, 2010

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Spider's Web
Image: Lisa McDonald / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Scientists have created genetically engineered E. coli bacteria that produce spider dragline silk. Spider's silk has many amazing properties that make it an ideal material that could be used for a number of industrial and biomedical applications. In order to create this artificial silk, the researchers synthesized the spider gene that produces silk and inserted it into the E. coli bacteria.

The researchers genetically altered the bacteria in order to help them produce spider silk protein. The artificial silk protein was then purified and spun into silk fiber. The strength, extensibility and stiffness of the artificial silk fiber was tested and found to be comparable to that of genuine spider silk. The researchers are confident that their method for mass producing spider dragline silk can also be used to produce other biomaterials such as elastin and collagen.

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