Strong, yet flexible, spider silk is the most unique extended phenotype in the animal kingdom. The development of various silk types allowed spiders to radiate into numerous niches they inhabit today. Despite research exploring the diversity of web types and their material properties, we still have a poor understanding of the evolutionary history of spider web evolution and the selective pressures that caused the evolutionary radiation.
Headed by Sean Blamires, our research takes an interdisciplinary approach to explore the production of spider silk from a genetic and physiological level, to exploring the material and chemical composition of the final product. Combining these approaches with an evolutionary and ecological perspective, we hope to understand the various environmental and physiological pressures that led to the diversity in web types, material composition, and ecological niches currently in use.
Researchers involved: Sean Blamires, Georgia Cerexhe, Matthew Hasemore, and Michael Kasumovic.
This project is funded by an ARC DECRA Fellowship to Sean Blamires.