The silk egg case and orb web of spiders are elaborate structures that are assembled from a number of components. We analysed the structure, the amino acid and fibre compositions, and the tensile properties of the silk fibres of the egg case of Nephila clavata. SEM shows that the outer and inner covers of the egg case consist of thick, medium and thin silk fibres. The silk fibres of the outer cover of the egg case are probably produced by the major and minor ampullate glands. The silk fibres of the inner cover of the egg case from cylindrical glands appears to be distinct from the silk fibres of the major ampullate glands based on their micro-morphology, mole percent amino acid composition and types, and tensile behaviour and properties. Collectively, our investigations show that N. clavata uses silk fibres from relatively few glands in varying combinations to achieve different physical and chemical properties (e.g., color, diameter, morphology and amino acid composition) and functional and mechanical properties in the different layers of the egg case.
Volume 45, 2020
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