Spider web adhesive technology could replace petroleum-based products. Photo: Wikipedia.
In her book Biomimicry, Janine Benyus turned our attention to spider silk, whose mechanical performance relative to weight dramatically outpaces that of steel. Now, researchers at University of Wyoming in Laramie have revealed that dragline thread is not the spider’s sole material innovation.
Omar Choresh and colleagues have unlocked genetic secrets related to the glue that spiders secrete to trap prey—an adhesive trick that has long eluded scientists. By mimicking the formation of glue-secreting spider cells, Choresh determined that two individual proteins comprised by genes on opposite strands of the same DNA make up the sticky glycoprotein.
Possible applications include a new line of biocompatible, surgical adhesives. A more distant future could bring biomimetic, self-adhering architectural textiles.