Journal article

A novel property of spider silk: chemical defence against ants

Shichang Zhang, Teck Hui Koh, Wee Khee Seah, Yee Hing Lai, Mark A Elgar, Daiqin Li

PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES | ROYAL SOC | Published : 2012

Abstract

Spider webs are made of silk, the properties of which ensure remarkable efficiency at capturing prey. However, remaining on, or near, the web exposes the resident spiders to many potential predators, such as ants. Surprisingly, ants are rarely reported foraging on the webs of orb-weaving spiders, despite the formidable capacity of ants to subdue prey and repel enemies, the diversity and abundance of orb-web spiders, and the nutritional value of the web and resident spider. We explain this paradox by reporting a novel property of the silk produced by the orb-web spider Nephila antipodiana (Walckenaer). These spiders deposit on the silk a pyrrolidine alkaloid (2-pyrrolidinone) that provides pr..

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University of Melbourne Researchers

Grants

Awarded by Singapore Ministry of Education


Awarded by Australian Research Council


Funding Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Poh Moi Goh for maintaining the insect culture, to Qiping Liu for technique help with GC-MS and to Junhao Tang for the identification of ants. This study was supported by grants (R-154-000-262-112) from Singapore Ministry of Education Academic Research Fund (AcRF), and the Australian Research Council (DP0879610). We also thank the National Parks Board for the research permit (NP/RP 732).