Spider glue key to new bio-adhesives

December 23rd, 2009 - 4:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 23 (IANS) Scientists have solved a long-standing mystery about the glue that holds spider webs together.
The findings are an advance toward a new generation of bio-adhesives and glues - “green” glues that replace existing petro-based products for a range of uses.

Omer Choresh, molecular biologist at the University of Wyoming, 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 protein bits of sugar attached.

The scientists analysed 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, says an American Chemical Society

release.

“Once the cloned genes are over expressed in systems such as insect or bacterial cell cultures, large-scale production of the glycoprotein can be used to develop a new biobased glue for a variety of purposes,” the report notes.

The report was published in ACS’ Biomacromolecules.

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