Spider silk genes used in… venom gland?Enlarge (credit: National Park Service)
According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, about 300 different species have had their entire genomes sequenced. Us, obviously, but also rats, puffer fish, fruit flies, sea squirts, roundworms, chickens, dogs, yeast, honey bees, gorillas, chimpanzees, sea urchins, a bunch of bacteria, and many assorted other birds, plants, animals, and fungi.
New to the list is the orb-weaver spider Nephila clavipes.

Analysis of this spider’s genome hints at how spider silk evolved, helping us to understand the whole system better and bringing us that much closer to our ultimate goal of one day making super-strong spider silk to achieve our own ends. (Mwhahahaha… )
Orb weavers, the kind that weave circular webs, comprise the third largest family of spiders: about 3,000 species.

Each female orb weaver can produce different kinds of silk in her different kinds of silk glands.

The silk used for draglines, bridges, and web radii has great tensile strength. The silk used for prey wrapping and egg-case insulation is strong yet flexible.

The silk used for prey capture is sticky and viscous.
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