An international collaboration between the University of Melbourne, University of Bayreuth and ANSTO’s Australian Synchrotron provides the first insights into how the rare silk of the Australian basket-web spider retains its strength and resilient structure— allowing the spider to make a robust and rather exquisite silken basket.
The silk is so firm and remarkable that it enables the basket web to maintain its structural integrity without any support from the surrounding vegetation.
The insights into physical and chemical properties of this basket-web silk may be useful for the production of artificial spider silks, which have already shown strong potential as an advanced biomimetic material in textile and medical applications.
“The biochemical makeup of the silk thread cross-section, particularly secondary protein structures and complex carbohydrates, was examined on the Infrared Microspectroscopy (IRM) beamline at the Australian Synchrotron,” said beamline scientist and co-author, Dr Pimm Vongsvivut.
Read more on the ANSTO website
Image: Credit: Hanyl et al, “Free-standing spider silk webs of the thomisid Saccodomus Formivorus are made of composites comprising micro- and submicron fibers,” Scientific Reports, 10, 17624 (2020)