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Scientists have analyzed the surface properties of the silk from the Linothelle fallax spider. The group used scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy. Combining the two forms of microscopy enabled them to study characteristics like stickiness and roughness.

The team concluded that the globules on the web were not separate carbohydrate-protein components but part of the web. They also tried to use different solvents to change the web’s characteristics. Ethanol and water did not appear to affect the web. However, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) removed the globules from the silk, thus increasing its adhesiveness.

Researchers concluded that such solvents could alter the structure of the silk and affect its biocompatibility. For this reason, it could not interact with human tissues for a long time without causing side effects.

 The silk has hydrophobic and hydrophilic bonds

The spider silk consists of alternating parts of hydrophilic (water-soluble) and hydrophobic (water-insoluble) bonds. As a result, their applications with or without treatment are vast. For instance, people use DMSO-treated silk to wrap protein-rich products and preserve them. On the other hand, plant-based products retain moisture if wrapped in natural silk. For this reason, silk is beneficial in transporting food.

The spider silk has antimicrobial properties

The unsaturated fat in silk has antimicrobial properties. These characteristics enable healthcare workers to use to for wound dressing, surgical threads, and implant coating. Moreover, it can replace more toxic antibacterial solutions. Furthermore, this new study shows that it effectively destroys Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.

The team pointed out that the silk should only be for coating implants if the patient’s body does not reject it. It acts by lowering the proliferation of bacterial colonies.

According to Anastasia Kriuchkova, a study co-author, the web should not wholly replace other antimicrobial solutions.

Despite the benefits of spider silk on transportation, it will most likely not be used for packaging because it is costly and laborious to produce on a large scale.

Researches titled the study Modulating Surface Properties of the Linothelle Dallas Spider Web By Solvent Treatment. The team was from the Swedish University of Agricultural Science and SCAMT Instituted at ITMO.