Biomimetic file 156: Engineered Bio-materials

Coat made from biotech spider silk

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image source: science daily

Highlight: “Spider silk is one of nature’s stretchiest and longest– making it ideal for active sportswear. However, harvesting spider silk on an industrial scale is not very efficient, mainly due to spiders’ competitive disposition to eat their rivals… Scientist have found a way to generate The spider silk protein, fibroin, with the help of microbes… Spiber isolated the gene responsible for the production of fibroin in spiders and introduced into a bio-engineered bacteria, meaning they churned it out as they grew. The protein is then collected and spun into artificial silk.”

Insight: There are a range of materials which are still best “manufactured”through biological means rather than engineering. Examples would include soft organ tissues, a range of membranes or in this instance spider webs. The point here is that instead of trying to re-engineer existing structures found in nature, it appears a better approach to make use of species or ecosystem services to undertake part of the making process. The outcome is likely to me much cheaper and better…

More information: here

What is Biomimetics: the field of gaining inspiration from nature first to solve some of our most difficult challenges. Instead of coming up with our own solutions to a problematic, the odds are that species on the planet already offer an ultimate solution. This simple fact is also another strong case to preserve species at all cost as the intellectual heritage contained within or through the study of species is both irreplaceable and invaluable…

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www.biodiversity.sg

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