Javier Garrote, Víctor Ruiz, Omar P. Troncoso, Fernando G. Torres, Miquel Arnedo, Manuel Elices, Gustavo V. Guinea, José Pérez-Rigueiro.
Abstract: Spider silk is a natural material with unique properties and a great potential for engineering and biomedical applications. In spite of its simple composition and highly conserved and stereotypical production, spider silks show a wide range of variability in their mechanical properties which, for long, have defied their classification and standardization. Here we propose to launch the Spider Silk Standardization Initiative (S3I), a methodology based on the definition of the α* parameter, in an attempt to define a systematic procedure to classify the tensile properties exhibited by major ampullate gland silk (MAS) spun by Entelegynae spiders. The α* parameter is calculated from the comparison of the true stress-true strain curve of any MAS fiber after being subjected to maximum supercontraction, with the true stress-true strain curve of the species Argiope aurantia, which is set as a reference curve. This work presents the details of the S3I methodology and, as an example, shows its application to an assemblage of Entelegynae spiders from different families collected at the Pantanos de Villa wetlands (Lima, Peru). The systematic and objective classification of the tensile properties of MAS fibers allowed by the S3I will offer insights into key aspects of the biological evolution of the material, and address questions such as how history and adaptation contributed to shape those properties. In addition, it will surely have far reaching consequences in fields such as Materials Science, and Molecular and Evolutionary Biology, by organizing the range of tensile properties exhibited by spider silk fibers.
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