Researchers at Tufts University have found a way to engineer bacteria to produce enough protein to make spider silk, according to MIT's Technology Review. The silk — which is lightweight and tougher than steel — could have many industry applications, says Tech Review's Katherine Bourzac. Previous efforts to do this have failed because researchers were unable to get the microbes to produce enough protein to synthesize the silk, Bourzac adds. Researchers also didn't have the complete gene sequence for the silk, but new sequencing technology enabled them to produce the first complete genetic sequence last year. The Tufts scientists added the full silk sequence to E. coli and then engineered its protein production pathway to produce the right amino acids, Bourzac says, adding that they now plan to turn it into a production process.
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