Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Producing Spider Silk Fibers

Class

Article

Department

Biology

Faculty Mentor

Randy Lewis

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Abstract

Millions of years of evolution have turned proteins into incredible biomaterials. Among protein superstars is dragline spider silk. Excreted by spiders as a lifeline, it is the strongest biomaterial known to man. Millions of years of evolution have also made spiders highly independent (in other words; territorial and cannibalistic), which poses major barriers to farming. Genetic engineering has provided an alternative to this problem via production of this protein in other organisms. The focus of this research is optimizing the mechanical spinning of proteins produced by transgenic goats. In order to bring the strength of synthetic fibers up to par with those produced by spiders, testing has been done with varying parameters for this spinning e.g. speed, stretch, temperature, additives, solvents, etc.. In addition to optimizing properties this research plans to design, build, and test spinning systems that integrate these treatments and maximize the speed of silk production for commercial use. The hope is to match the properties of native spider silk in tensile strength and elasticity. The results from previous experiments and plans for future experiments will be presented.

Start Date

4-9-2015 12:00 PM

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Apr 9th, 12:00 PM

Producing Spider Silk Fibers

Millions of years of evolution have turned proteins into incredible biomaterials. Among protein superstars is dragline spider silk. Excreted by spiders as a lifeline, it is the strongest biomaterial known to man. Millions of years of evolution have also made spiders highly independent (in other words; territorial and cannibalistic), which poses major barriers to farming. Genetic engineering has provided an alternative to this problem via production of this protein in other organisms. The focus of this research is optimizing the mechanical spinning of proteins produced by transgenic goats. In order to bring the strength of synthetic fibers up to par with those produced by spiders, testing has been done with varying parameters for this spinning e.g. speed, stretch, temperature, additives, solvents, etc.. In addition to optimizing properties this research plans to design, build, and test spinning systems that integrate these treatments and maximize the speed of silk production for commercial use. The hope is to match the properties of native spider silk in tensile strength and elasticity. The results from previous experiments and plans for future experiments will be presented.