The unique combination of high stiffness, strength and extensibility make spider major ampullate silk desirable for biomimetic applications. The unique properties of spider gluey silks, likewise, render them desirable materials for biomimetics.

Intensive research of the genetics, biochemistry and biomechanics of these materials has facilitated a thorough understanding of their properties at various levels. Nevertheless, methods such as cloning, recombination and electro-spinning have so far failed to successfully produce materials with similar properties as spider silk.

It is imperative to learn more about the ecology and evolution of spider silk variability if the creating of spider silk analogues is to be realized. Our research utilizes sophisticated techniques to determine spider silk and web variability in ecological and evolutionary contexts. We do so by testing hypotheses explaining inter-individual and interspecific silk and web property variations across a range of scales and parameters.

All photographs © Sean Blamires

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