Team:UC Chile/Bacto/Fundamentation


Cyanolux & SpiderColi - Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, iGEM 2012


Spider dragline silk is an exceptionally strong and elastic biomaterial and one of the strongest natural fibers known. It is five times stronger by weight than steel and three times tougher than the top quality man-made fiber Kevlar [1]. That’s why is referred to as “biosteel”. Furthermore, this material is biocompatible, biodegradable and has potential for processing in aqueous solution under ambient conditions.

These properties make the spider silk an ideal material for numerous industrial applications such as bullet-proof vests, parachutes, seat belts and composite materials in aircraft, and a promising substance for biomedical applications such as drug delivery systems and scaffolds for tissue engineering.

The excellent mechanical properties and low immunogenicity of spider webs have fascinated the man for thousands of years, but unfortunately large scale farming of spiders is not convenient because of the highly territorial and aggressive character of these arthropods. Synthetic spider silk production is a promising way to make use of this exceptional biomaterial.


1. Xia, X.-X., Qian, Z.-G., Ki, C. S., Park, Y. H., Kaplan, D. L., & Lee, S. Y. (2010). Native-sized recombinant spider silk protein produced in metabolically engineered Escherichia coli results in a strong fiber. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(32), 14059-63. doi:10.1073/pnas.1003366107