A Goat that can Produce Spider Silk
Why would a Goat belong on a Nashville Pest Control blog? An inventive new technology involving genetic engineering has brought the goat into a category similar to that of a spider. This may seem impossible; however we have all witnessed much advancement from DNA engineering over the past few years. These scientific advancements have even allowed genetic biologists to go so far as to clone an actual goat. So with even more research scientists have been able to alter the DNA of goats to produce a Spider Silk protein. These goats do not shoot spider silk from their abdomen in order to spin webs, however a goat living on a spider web would be quite an interesting site. Rather, this discovery has allowed goats to make Spider Silk protein and excrete it in the milk that they produce.
Why would we be interested in developing a genetically engineered goat to produce Spider Silk? Well, just a few blogs back, on our site, we already discussed the strength and innovations that could be invented by using spider silk in a variety of applications. This silk can be compared to having the strength of steel, and could even stop a bullet when used in the proper way. If this silk could have so many strength benefits in such a small package, scientists deem it highly important to explore how to produce it in an easy to harvest manner. Just think of trying to have a spider farm; which would send chills up the spine of many. Not only would there be a problem with keeping the spiders from eating each other, it would also be difficult to gather and harvest. Enter the goat; a calm animal that is easy to breed and handle, produces as much milk as larger more difficult animals to work with, and they are a lot cuter than a spider.
Scientists found a way to extract the genetic code from an orb weaver spider, inject that gene into goat embryos, then just let breeding do the work. As with all breeding of genetically engineered animals, only certain babies will be born with that DNA and genetic code, so they are simply tested and separated. That is a very simple description of how this has been accomplished, but in short it explains the process. The altered goats do not look or act any different than a normal goat and they lactate to produce milk in the same way. They are also milked in the same manner, pulling on their udders. However, this spider silk protein is also produced along with the milk. The milk is then is processed, purified to separate the silk protein, dried and spun into a super strong microfiber. There is also ongoing research to put these spider silk genes in their feed, to eliminate the process of injecting embryos. This would simplify the process of getting this gene into the goats DNA and also would speed up the development of herds that could produce the silk for benefit of inventions that could help us all.
Imagine the future of clothing, shoes, building materials, coatings as well as applications for joint replacements, ligaments, skin, and tendons; all thanks to the genetically altered spider silk producing goat. Seems unbelievable, but Scientists are hard at work making this a reality for our future.