Research of the mechanical property, gene expression, and behaviroal ecology of spider silk. (3/3) (NSC 93-2311-B-029-001)

Abstract

Recent studies have demonstrated that orb-weaving spiders may alter web architectures, the amount of silk in webs, and the protein composition of silks in response to variation in amount or type of prey. In this study we conducted food manipulations to examine whether orb-weaving spiders may adjust the physical properties of silk or its amino acid composition, as well as the structural features of orb webs, to variation in prey. We fed Nephila pilipes two different types of prey, crickets or flies, and then compared orb structure and the chemical and physical properties of major ampullate (MA) silk between groups. Prey type did not affect orb structures in N. pilipes. However, MA silk diameter and the stiffness of orbs constructed by spiders fed crickets were significantly greater than for the fly group. MA silk manually drawn from N. pilipes fed crickets was significantly thicker, but less stiff, than silk from spiders fed flies. Spiders in the cricket treatment also produced MA silk with slightly, but statistically significantly, more serine and marginally less alanine than silk from spiders in the fly treatment. Percentages of other major amino acids (proline, glycine and glutamine) did not differ between treatments. This study demonstrated that orb-weaving spiders can alter structural and material properties of MA silk, as well as the physical characteristics of webs, in response to different types of prey.

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Updated: Jan-24-2014 11:34:24 (Taiwan, GMT+08:00).