Evidence of the Most Stretchable Egg Sac Silk Stalk, of the European Spider of the Year Meta menardi

Lepore, Emiliano and Marchioro, Andrea and Isaia, Marco and Buehler, Markus J. and Pugno, Nicola M. (2012) Evidence of the Most Stretchable Egg Sac Silk Stalk, of the European Spider of the Year Meta menardi. In «PLoS ONE», vol. 7, n. 2 San Francisco, CA, USA : PLOS, e30500-(12 pp.).

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    Spider silks display generally strong mechanical properties, even if differences between species and within the same species can be observed. While many different types of silks have been tested, the mechanical properties of stalks of silk taken from the egg sac of the cave spider Meta menardi have not yet been analyzed. Meta menardihas recently been chosen as the "European spider of the year 2012", from the European Society of Arachnology. Here we report a study where silk stalks were collected directly from several caves in the north-west of Italy. Field emission scanning electron microscope (FESEM) images showed that stalks are made up of a large number of threads, each of them with diameter of 6.0360.58mm. The stalks were strained at the constant rate of 2 mm/min, using a tensile testing machine. The observed maximum stress, strain and toughness modulus, defined as the area under the stress-strain curve, are 0.64 GPa, 751% and 130.7 MJ/m3, respectively. To the best of our knowledge, such an observed huge elongation has never been reported for egg sac silk stalks and suggests a huge unrolling microscopic mechanism of the macroscopic stalk that, as a continuation of the protective egg sac, is expected to be composed by fibres very densely and randomly packed. The Weibull statistics was used to analyze the results from mechanical testing, and an average value of Weibull modulus (m) is deduced to be in the range of 1.5–1.8 with a Weibull scale parameter (s0) in the range of 0.33–0.41 GPa, showing a high coefficient of correlation(R2= 0.97).

    Item Type: Article in journal
    FP7 Grant Agreement Number: European Research Council/ERC Grant agreement/EC/FP7/279985
    Department or Research center: Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering
    Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General) > TA164 Bioengineering
    T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General) > TA630 Structural Engineering
    Repository staff approval on: 05 Nov 2013 15:30

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