10 December 2007

Coming soon - Spider socks

Spider silk is one of the strongest fibres found in nature. Scientists in Japan have found a way of harnessing its power. Researchers at Shinshu University have succeeded in injecting spider genes into silkworms to create a thread that is stronger, softer and more durable than conventional silk. A Japanese manufacturer is already experimenting with the thread, and spider socks, stockings and even fishing lines are expected to appear on the market within a few years.


Spider “farming” is impossible because of their territorial and cannibalistic nature. Five years ago American geneticists devised a way of generating spider silk by extruding it from the udders of female goats. However, the Japanese technique employs a much more manageable creature - the silkworm. Silkworm eggs are injected with the genes of the golden orb spider. The silkworm caterpillars that emerge from the eggs weave cocoons, of which 10 per cent consist of spider proteins. These are spun into silk. It is hoped that the proportion of spider thread material will be increased to 50 per cent.


Although it is likely to have many applications in the future the only company developing commercial applications for the spider silk is Okamoto, a business based in Nara, central Japan, which plans to release extra-thin and durable spider socks by about 2010.


Just another little bit of proof that nature is wonderful!

15 comments:

Redwine said...

Something I won't ever wear, spider underwear, that is.

jams o donnell said...

Even if the silk is nice and soft yet very sturdy?

Roland Dodds said...

Will I be granted all the powers of Spiderman if I purchase these items? My bet is yes!

jams o donnell said...

I would hope so. Knowing my luck though it would confer on me the powers of the Spleen out of the Mystery Men!

The Lone Beader said...

I am in awe of these spider threads. I think they should make spider beading thread, too. Then, maybe my work would never come apart:)

Bryan said...

I had a picture of a golden orb up at my place. The females are 10 to 12 centimeters front "foot" to rear "foot" and the webs are gold colored, not white.

Their webs are large and involve different kinds of silk, both sticky and non-sticky. They are superb mosquito traps, which is why I leave them alone whenever possible.

jams o donnell said...

You never know lb. It might be on the shelves at your local bead shop in the not too distant future

What a beautiful (and very useful) spider Bryan. That is a wonderful photo. WE don't have anything similar here but then again the crab spider is a beauty, although a tiny beauty!

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I don't hate spiders, but this one kinda caused me a second look, after reading about its size...

And re the socks - Rolad asked the right question. If one gets a full outfit made of that silk, does one get to climb skyscrapers easily?

Sandy Carlson said...

Silk is a wonderful fiber. I can't wait to see what comes of this. Thanks for the scoop.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Yeah nature is wonderful.....hybrid cross-breeding like this though is the stuff that B horror movies in the 50's were made of!

jams o donnell said...

It's a bit of a monster isn't it Snoopy but oh so beautiful. It would be nice to think one could scale tall buildings but a man of my carriage would need som pretty strong silk!

It could be a flash in the pan or it could be a real benefit. Time will tell I suppose Sandy

Absolutely Ewbl! I'm waiting for attack of the mutant butterflies!

The Super Bongo said...

shudder

jams o donnell said...

It wouldn't be that bad I'm sure Super Bongo!

Qtpies7 said...

1. I am very thankful my internet is giving me fits and I can only see pictures if I click on the, because I can't stand to look at spiders, I am a true arachnophic.
2. I think it is horrible to cross the dna like that. I don't know why we need to do it. Silk is nice the way it is.

jams o donnell said...

Ah QTPies I take it you did not care for my cra spider shots.

I do agree that a lot of care has to be taken with genetic engineering. If this can be done safely then it could have some excellent aspplications that would reduce some of the oil consumed in creating a number of artificial fibres