Silk-spinning organs of a spider

  • Liz Hirst, Medical Research Council
  • Digital Images
  • Online

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Silk-spinning organs of a spider. Liz Hirst, Medical Research Council. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). Source: Wellcome Collection.

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Colour-enhanced scanning electron micrograph of the spinnerets on the end of a spider's abdomen. Silk is extruded from the hair-like spigots within the spinnerets and is spun to form the fibres. Different spinnerets produce the different types of silk needed for different parts of the spider's web. Replicating the spinning process artifically is now possible, allowing the development of spider silk as a viable biomaterial with exceptional strength and toughness. It may have uses as diverse as bullet-proof vests and fine sutures for eye surgery.

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