Biotech Updates

International Team of Scientists Map the Spider Genome

May 14, 2014

Researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark and the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) in China have successfully sequenced the genome of the African social velvet spider, Stegodyphus mimosarum. A draft genome of the Brazilian white-knee tarantula, Acanthoscurria geniculata, was also included in the report published in the journal Nature.

The velvet spider's genome has about 2.5 billion base pairs, while the tarantula's genome has roughly 6.5 billion. An analysis of the spiders' genetic codes identified new proteins involved in spider silk production and  in producing toxins in their venom. Spider silk has long held the interest of scientists and engineers because of its strength, and the analysis could lead to the development of stronger synthetic materials that could emulate the properties of natural spider silk. Further understanding of the neurotoxins in spider venom, which kill specific insects, could provide a basis for greener, more selective pesticides.

For more details, read the news release available at: