Spidroins and Silk Fibers of Aquatic Spiders.Sci Rep 2019; 9(1):13656SR
Spiders are commonly found in terrestrial environments and many rely heavily on their silks for fitness related tasks such as reproduction and dispersal. Although rare, a few species occupy aquatic or semi-aquatic habitats and for them, silk-related specializations are also essential to survive in aquatic environments. Most spider silks studied to date are from cob-web and orb-web weaving species, leaving the silks from many other terrestrial spiders as well as water-associated spiders largely undescribed. Here, we characterize silks from three Dictynoidea species: the aquatic spiders Argyroneta aquatica and Desis marina as well as the terrestrial Badumna longinqua. From silk gland RNA-Seq libraries, we report a total of 47 different homologs of the spidroin (spider fibroin) gene family. Some of these 47 spidroins correspond to known spidroin types (aciniform, ampullate, cribellar, pyriform, and tubuliform), while other spidroins represent novel branches of the spidroin gene family. We also report a hydrophobic amino acid motif (GV) that, to date, is found only in the spidroins of aquatic and semi-aquatic spiders. Comparison of spider silk sequences to the silks from other water-associated arthropods, shows that there is a diversity of strategies to function in aquatic environments.