Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Doctoral Training Programme

Molecular genetic studies of spider silk: from natural to synthetic fibres


Lab rotation project description

The rotation will involve both bioinformatic and molecular laboratory elements to provide training in both these areas. Bioinformatic analysis will be made of previously obtained spider silk transcriptome data. Molecular genetic analysis will involve designing and carrying out PCR assays to confirm the location within and amongst silk glands of individual silk transcripts.

Fact file

Research theme



Life Sciences




2nd supervisor

BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnerships

Linked PhD Project Outline

The   advent of next generation sequencing technology has allowed de novo   characterisation of genes of interest in the absence of genome information.   We have taken such an approach to the characterisation of novel spider   spidroins (silks). Whilst the molecular diversity of silks that exist in   nature is now becoming apparent, it is less clear how these are processed and   assembled and what the relationship is between molecular composition and   physical properties of the resulting fibres.
We will attempt to make progress   in this area by characterising the full range of transcripts from within silk   glands in order to a) establish the nature of accessory proteins that may be   important in correct fibre formation b) extend the range of silk types about   which we have molecular information (silk ‘glues’ for instance are little   understood) and c) establish how variation has been achieved (e.g. gene   duplication or recombination; or through differential splicing). The work   will inform our design of synthetic silks, produced using patented UoN   technology, which is currently in progress with a commercial partner.

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Doctoral Training Programme

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Tel: +44 (0) 115 8466946