A devastating plague as origin
Tetranychus urticae, a plant-feeding mite species that cause devastating plagues worldwide, produces silk for colony protection, movement and communication. It is a highly attractive light-weight biomaterial that has high tensile strength, elasticity and is compatible with human tissues. Compared to spider silk, its diameter is 250 times smaller but has a similar or larger Young’s module (A measure of the elastic material stiffness, Hudson et al. 2013).
Spider mite silk has a board field of application
Bio-nanomaterials are one of the fastest developing sectors of industry and technology. The exceptional nanoscale size (resembling carbon-nanotubes) of spider mite silk makes it a more preferred material for the development of new materials for use in industry, agriculture, cosmetics and medical biotechnology.
Spider mite silk is different
Commercial production of spider silk remains in the experimental phase because of the lack of genomic resources in spiders, the complex mode of spider silk production and the incomplete understanding of silk polymerization. Our team sequenced the whole genome of the two-spotted spider mite (TSSM), Tetranychus urticae, which has led to the discovery of the entire family of silk-producing genes (fibroins).
- Miodrag Grbic, Thomas Van Leeuwen, Richard M. Clark et al. Nature 479, 487- 492 (2011)
The genome of Tetranychus urticae reveals herbivorous pest adaptation
- Stephen D. Hudson, Vladimir Zhurov, Vojislava Grbic, Miodrag Grbic and Jeffrey L. Hutter, J. Appl. Phys. 113, 154307 (2013)
Measurement of the Elastic Modulus of Spider Mite Silk Fibers Using Atomic Force Microscopy