Navigation Links
Tarantulas produce silk from their feet

Researchers have found for the first time that tarantulas can produce silk from their feet as well as their spinnerets, a discovery with profound implications for why spiders began to spin silk in the first place.

Adam Summers, a UC Irvine professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, was among the team of scientists who made the discovery using zebra tarantulas from Costa Rica. The team found that the tarantulas secrete silk from spigots on their legs, allowing them to better cling to surfaces. Until now, spiders were only known to spin silk from spinnerets located on their abdomen and to use the silk to form webs for protection and capturing prey rather than for locomotion.

The findings are published in the current issue of Nature.

"If we find that other spiders in addition to these tarantulas have the ability to secrete silk from their feet, this could represent a major change in our evolutionary hypothesis regarding spider silk," Summers said. "It could mean that silk production actually originated in the feet to increase traction, with the diversity of spinneret silk evolving later."

The researchers placed tarantulas on a vertical glass surface. Though ground dwelling, these spiders can normally hang on to vertical surfaces by using thousands of spatulate hairs and small claws. However, the scientists noticed that when the spider started to slip down the surface, it produced silk from all four pairs of legs, allowing it to adhere to the glass for more than 20 minutes. The silk secretions were clearly visible on the glass. Using scanning electron microscopy, the scientists also were able to see the openings on the legs that resemble the silk-producing spigots on spider abdominal spinnerets.

The next step, according to Summers, is to investigate whether the silk produced by the feet is the same as that produced by the spinneret. Many spiders can produce seven different kinds of silk. Scientists will look at the genes involved in silk production from the feet, compare them to the gene family that leads to spinneret silk production, and be able to better determine whether silk was originally used for traction, or whether that was a secondary usage that came later.

Source:University of California - Irvine

Related biology news :

1. Inexpensive, mass-produced genes core of synthetic biology advances at UH
2. Researchers devise way to mass-produce embryonic stem cells
3. Stem cells from brain transformed to produce insulin at Stanford
4. Anammox bacteria produce nitrogen gas in oceans snackbar
5. Proteomics brings researchers closer to understanding microbes that produce acid mine drainage
6. Organic farms produce same yields as conventional farms
7. Pollution-eating bacteria produce electricity
8. Most embryos produced during IVF do not result in live births
9. Dangerous tricksters: Some bacterie use immune cells to reproduce
10. DNA self-assembly used to mass-produce patterned nanostructures
11. Lateral thinking produces first map of gene transmission

Post Your Comments:

(Date:10/9/2015)... ) ... "Samsung Galaxy S6 Fingerprint Sensor - Reverse ... --> ) has announced ... S6 Fingerprint Sensor - Reverse Costing Analysis" ... Research and Markets ( ) ...
(Date:10/8/2015)... , October 8, 2015 ... the "Company"), a biometric authentication company focused on ... the Wocket® smart wallet announces that revenues for ... approximately $410,000 compared with $113,00 for the three ... 9 months ended September 30, 2015 were approximately ...
(Date:10/6/2015)... , Oct. 6, 2015 Track Group, Inc. ... that it has signed a contract with the Virginia ... the full range of sentences under the Department,s oversight. ... the Americas. "This contract with the Virginia DOC will ... US and advances our position as a trusted leader ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... -- Cepheid (Nasdaq: CPHD ) today announced preliminary results ... --> --> Based on Cepheid,s ... of 2015 is expected to be approximately $126.5 million, ... approximately $(0.32) for the third quarter.  Based on Cepheid,s ... the third quarter of 2015 is expected to be ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , Oct. 13, 2015 Applied BioMath ( ... critical decision points throughout the drug invention process, announced ... Boston 2015 on October 20-22, 2015 in ... PhD, Co-Founder, President, and CEO of Applied BioMath, will ... early research to clinical trials" on Wednesday October 21st ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... October 13, 2015      Q ... company, has entered into a strategic relationship with Wombat ... and Paris, France based strategic ... --> This collaborative arrangement gives Q BioMed ... advisory team as well as long established pharmaceutical industry ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... CA (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2015 , ... Clinovo ... key expertise to the company’s fast growing clinical data solutions business. , Jeff Parr ... science companies of all sizes, including Avery Dennison, Thermo Fisher, and Ab Sciex to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: