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C. Biologists Crack Genetic Code for Specialized Spider Silk
trong>Narrator: This is Science Today. Biologists have uncovered the molecular structure of the gene for the protein that female spiders use to make silk for their eggs. Cheryl Hayashi, an assistant professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside says their discovery will help biotechnologists develop applications for spider silk, which collectively, are some of the toughest natural fibers known.

Hayashi: It actually surpasses a lot of the common man-made materials in certain mechanical attributes. It's stronger than high tensile steel and has a toughness that is greater than Kevlar.

Narrator: Hayashi explains that unlike the domesticated silk worm, it's not possible to simply mass rear spiders to produce spider silk, since they're predatory creatures.

Hayashi: So, if I were to start my spider culture in a room and I put a thousand in there, I wouldn't end up with very many after a few days! So by studying the natural spider genes out there, we can use nature as a model for how we can design our synthetic spider silks.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.