Home > Lifestyle > Features
Wednesday May 14, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday May 14, 2014 MYT 9:28:41 AM
SCIENTISTS published the first spider genome last week, helping the quest to uncover secrets which could lead to smarter insecticides and man-made super-strong spider silk.
Bio-researchers led by Trine Bilde at Denmark’s Aarhus University unravelled the DNA sequence of the tarantula and the African social velvet spider, each representing the two main groups of spiders.
The tarantula – which is infamous despite having a bite that is only as painful as a bee sting – is a so-called mygalomorph, meaning a ground-dwelling spider that lurks in wait for its prey.
The social velvet spider is an araneomorph, part of a group of spiders that have diversified to exploit a wide range of habitats above ground, where they live in communities and weave sophisticated webs to snare flying insects.
Spiders are a source of fascination for biologists, as they combine survival skills with great efficiency.
At a minimum cost in energy, they can catch prey as massive as seven times their own body weight.
Chemists, though, see spiders somewhat differently. They hope to replicate spider silk, a complex protein many times stronger than steel or kevlar, and to use neurotoxins in spider venom, which kill specific insects, as the basis for greener, more selective pesticides.
The genomes, published in the journal Nature Communications, offer the fullest picture yet of the genes that are involved in these coveted processes, said researcher Jesper Bechsgaard.
“For the venom proteins, we provide more diversity that potentially could be used for specific targets,” he said.
“For the silk proteins, we provide many complete sequences of different silk types that potentially could be helpful for others that do research on expressing silk in, for example, bacterial cells.” – AFP
Tags / Keywords:
Science & Technology, Science, biology, genetics, spider genome, spider silk, DNA sequence, tarantula, African social velvet spider
Inspired by precious gemstones: Bulgari's line of Le Gemme perfumes
Who can sniff out wines? The French can
Anyone whose last name is Roosevelt gets a RM295 stay in iconic New York hotel
Born with a three-chambered heart, a young man learns to make the most of each day
Kimbra feels life reverberate in new album
Mariah Carey gets six-figure retail therapy in Kuala Lumpur
Man who survived accident crawls for three days before rescue
Everton tell fans to avoid Lille city centre after clashes
Alibaba looking to expand Hollywood content offering: Bloomberg
Copyright © 1995-2014 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)