Deakin University
wang-webbuilding-2018.pdf (350.11 kB)

Web building and silk properties functionally covary among species of wolf spider

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-07-01, 00:00 authored by Mariángeles Lacava, Arley Camargo, Luis F Garcia, Marco A Benamú, Martin Santana, Jian Fang, Xungai Wang, Sean J Blamires
Although phylogenetic studies have shown covariation between the properties of spider major ampullate (MA) silk and web building, both spider webs and silks are highly plastic so we cannot be sure whether these traits functionally covary or just vary across environments that the spiders occupy. As MaSp2-like proteins provide MA silk with greater extensibility, their presence is considered necessary for spider webs to effectively capture prey. Wolf spiders (Lycosidae) are predominantly non-web building, but a select few species build webs. We accordingly collected MA silk from two web-building and six non-web-building species found in semirural ecosystems in Uruguay to test whether the presence of MaSp2-like proteins (indicated by amino acid composition, silk mechanical properties and silk nanostructures) was associated with web building across the group. The web-building and non-web-building species were from disparate subfamilies so we estimated a genetic phylogeny to perform appropriate comparisons. For all of the properties measured, we found differences between web-building and non-web-building species. A phylogenetic regression model confirmed that web building and not phylogenetic inertia influences silk properties. Our study definitively showed an ecological influence over spider silk properties. We expect that the presence of the MaSp2-like proteins and the subsequent nanostructures improves the mechanical performance of silks within the webs. Our study furthers our understanding of spider web and silk co-evolution and the ecological implications of spider silk properties.



Journal of evolutionary biology






968 - 978


John Wiley & Sons


Chichester, Eng.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal; C Journal article

Copyright notice

2018, European Society for Evolutionary Biology