Biology of spider silk

Int J Biol Macromol. Mar-Apr 1999;24(2-3):81-8. doi: 10.1016/s0141-8130(98)00076-2.


Studies are beginning to show that spider silk can be highly variable in chemical composition and mechanical properties. Clearly, both external and internal conditions affect silk production and thus the mechanical properties of the finished thread. An argument can be made that silk is optimised for a wide range of conditions rather than maximised for strength or toughness. Moreover, it seems that the spider is able to induce rapid and temporary adaptations of silk properties.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Insect Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Insect Proteins / chemistry*
  • Silk
  • Spiders / chemistry*
  • Time Factors


  • Amino Acids
  • Insect Proteins
  • Silk