Scientists have discovered how to genetically alter bacteria to produce super strong spider silk.
Pound for pound, spider silk is much stronger than steel, but agricultural spiders are incredibly inefficient, according to a press release – then finding a way to produce the bulk material could lead to super-strong fabrics and maybe even next-generation space suits.
Put enough spiders as you would need to grow silk together, and they tend to eat each other. Edit the gene for the production of spider silk on bacteria as it is – now a common manufacturing process – and it is rejected.
"In nature, there are many protein-based materials that have incredible mechanical properties, but the supply of these materials is often limited," said lead researcher Fuzhong Zhang of the University of Washington in St. Louis in the press release .
"My laboratory is interested in breeding microbes so we can not only produce these materials, but make them even better."
To circumvent these limitations, scientists have cut the spider silk genes into smaller pieces that come together once integrated into the bacterial genome in a survey that will be presented Tuesday at the American Chemical Society's national meeting in Spring 2019.
With their new methodology, scientists were able to manufacture two grams of spider silk – as strong as silk that came from a spider – for every liter of gene-spliced bacteria.
This is not all that silk for a disturbing amount of bacteria, but the press release reports that it is a big improvement over other attempts at mass production of silk.
However, if this research is expanded, NASA will be able to take the bacteria for future missions into space, giving crew members a new supply of repair materials.
This article was originally published by Futurism. Read the original article.