Why Should Spiders Have A Monopoly On Spider Silk?

Spider silk is one of nature's wonder materials. It's stronger than steel and more elastic than nylon. Currently, only spiders benefit. But University of Wyoming researchers in Laramie say they have identified two key ingredients in spider dragline--the stuff spiders dangle from. More important, they have engineered E. coli bacteria to produce one of these proteins, appropriately named Spidroin. "We've turned E. coli into little, protein-churning factories," says Randolph V. Lewis, a professor of molecular biology. Manufacturing the other protein is only a matter of time, he predicts.

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