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Why Researchers Study Spider Silks

 

Narrator: This is Science Today. Those pesky cobwebs hanging in the dark corners of your home may be a nuisance to you, but they are the source of much fascination and research by scientists. In fact, the mechanical properties and genetic structure of spider silks has been studied for more than a decade by biologist Cheryl Hayashi of the University of California, Riverside.

Hayashi: There are over thirty-seven thousand described species of spiders and just a handful of them have been looked at for silk genes. In my lab at UC Riverside, we're taking a diversity approach to looking a spider silk evolution.

Narrator: Hayashi's lab has looked at four species in particular and have identified the genes and DNA sequences for two key proteins in the silk of the black widow spider.

Hayashi: Once we know all the silk genes that are in those species, we'll have a much better understanding of how these silks have evolved.

Narrator: This information may lead to the development of new, super strong synthetic materials. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.