Surprising strength of silkworm silk

Nature. 2002 Aug 15;418(6899):741. doi: 10.1038/418741a.


Commercial silkworm silk is presumed to be much weaker and less extensible than spider dragline silk, which has been hailed as a 'super-fibre'. But we show here that the mechanical properties of silkworm silks can approach those of spider dragline silk when reeled under controlled conditions. We suggest that silkworms might be able to produce threads that compare well with spider silk by changing their spinning habits, rather than by having their silk genes altered.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Temperature
  • Bombyx / genetics
  • Bombyx / physiology*
  • Insect Proteins / chemistry*
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Silk
  • Spiders / physiology
  • Tensile Strength
  • Time Factors


  • Insect Proteins
  • Silk