Free-standing spider silk webs of the thomisid Saccodomus formivorus are made of composites comprising micro- and submicron fibers
AuthorHaynl, C; Vongsvivut, J; Mayer, KRH; Bargel, H; Neubauer, VJ; Tobin, MJ; Elgar, MA; Scheibel, T
Source TitleScientific Reports
University of Melbourne Author/sElgar, Mark
AffiliationSchool of BioSciences
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsHaynl, C., Vongsvivut, J., Mayer, K. R. H., Bargel, H., Neubauer, V. J., Tobin, M. J., Elgar, M. A. & Scheibel, T. (2020). Free-standing spider silk webs of the thomisid Saccodomus formivorus are made of composites comprising micro- and submicron fibers. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 10 (1), https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-74469-z.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access at PMChttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7572385
Our understanding of the extraordinary mechanical and physico-chemical properties of spider silk is largely confined to the fibers produced by orb-weaving spiders, despite the diversity of foraging webs that occur across numerous spider families. Crab spiders (Thomisidae) are described as ambush predators that do not build webs, but nevertheless use silk for draglines, egg cases and assembling leaf-nests. A little-known exception is the Australian thomisid Saccodomus formivorus, which constructs a basket-like silk web of extraordinary dimensional stability and structural integrity that facilitates the capture of its ant prey. We examined the physical and chemical properties of this unusual web and revealed that the web threads comprise microfibers that are embedded within a biopolymeric matrix containing additionally longitudinally-oriented submicron fibers. We showed that the micro- and submicron fibers differ in their chemical composition and that the web threads show a remarkable lateral resilience compared with that of the major ampullate silk of a well-investigated orb weaver. Our novel analyses of these unusual web and silk characteristics highlight how investigations of non-model species can broaden our understanding of silks and the evolution of foraging webs.
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