Life On Earth
Mutant Worms Spin Spider Silk
As strange as it sounds, scientists and businessmen alike have been trying to harvest the incredibly strong webbing of spiders for years. What most people donít know is that spider webs are made out of an extremely durable silk, so durable in fact that it can be stronger than kevlar! Who wouldnít want naturally produced, protective clothing made of that?
Spiders, however, have the nasty predisposition of being loner types and could actually kill each other if several are housed togetherÖ Read on for more information!
As housing a colony of these industrious insects is impossible, a brilliant team came up with the idea of imprinting the genes with spider silk properties into other animals for simpler harvesting. Initial research into bacteria and plantlife didnít work out so well, but it seems silk worms are the trick.
By implanting very specific genes into the silk worms, it has become possible to harvest a silk with up to eighty percent the strength of the silk produced by spiders. They even tagged them with other genes to make their eyes glow red, so scientists could tell the mutant silk worms from the ones in whom the gene sequencing didnít take.
The applications are astounding for this sort of thing. In time this silk could be used to produce incredibly strong rope, clothing, protective uniforms, even new forms of bandage or bedding.
Whatever anybody has to say about genetic engineering, this is pretty cool.
Written by: Timothy Smith
Source: eEarth TV
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