Molecular, genetic and morphological studies of Argyroneta aquatica silk, and analysis of a range of silk composites

Strickland, Michelle (2019) Molecular, genetic and morphological studies of Argyroneta aquatica silk, and analysis of a range of silk composites. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Argyroneta aquatica are unique in their ability to build an underwater sheet web that is used to hold a bubble of air drawn from the surface. The diving bell allows dissolved oxygen to diffuse into the air bubble, enabling the spiders to remain submersed for extended periods of time. With recent advances in synthetic silk research, this property makes the diving bell of particular interest as a future biomaterial.

This thesis describes molecular, genetic and morphological studies of A. aquatica and their silk and shows the phylogenetic relationship between A. aquatica, Cybaeus angustiarum and Pholcus phalangioides silks and a range of silks from across the Araneae. The conservation of a pH-dependent salt bridge in the C-terminal region of A. aquatica silk, which extends across all silk types in the Araneae, suggests A. aquatica have retained the same silk fibre formation process as terrestrial spiders, a finding relevant to the future synthetic production of A. aquatica silk. Morphological observations of the diving bell web and A. aquatica’s spinning apparatus show a layer of hydrogel on both the haphazardly woven web and the spinnerets.

Lastly, this thesis describes an investigation into combinations of dragline silk and carbon nanomaterials (CNM), concluding that spiders exposed to CNM dispersions do not add CNM to their silk, but that CNM can be directly applied to silk fibres. Silk fibres coated in CNM show a small decrease in their tensile properties which may be a result of supercontraction due to the use of water in the CNM dispersions.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Goodacre, Sara
Davison, Angus
Keywords: Spider, Spider silk, Argyroneta aquatica, Pholcus phalangioides, Araneus diadematus, Carbon nanostructures, Carbon nanotubes, Graphene
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Life Sciences
Item ID: 56749
Depositing User: Strickland, Michelle
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2019 13:15
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2023 04:30

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