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Scientists create artificial honey bee silk

Using genetically modified bacteria, a team of Australian researchers has created artificially produced honey bee silk.

"The silks would be good for tough, lightweight textiles, and high-strength applications like advanced aviation and marine composites," ABC Science quoted CSIRO entomologist Dr Tara Sutherland, who led the team of research researchers, as saying.

"It would also be useful in medical applications including sutures, artificial tendons and ligaments," Sutherland added.

To produce their insect silk from E. coli, the researchers firstly had to genetically modify the bacteria.

"Honey bee silk was chosen because E. coli can't make long stranded silks like spiders or silk worms make, but can produce the shorter protein strands, made by honey bees," Sutherland said.

"Numerous efforts have been made to express other invertebrate silks in transgenic systems but the complicated structure of the silk genes in other organisms means that producing silk outside silk glands is very difficult.

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