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Spider genomes give hints about venom, silk production

Sequencing the genome of the African social velvet spider revealed proteins involved in producing venom and silk. The proteins could be used in biomaterials or insecticides.

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The whole genome of the African social velvet spider, Stegodyphus mimosarum, and a draft genome of the Brazilian white-knee tarantula, Acanthoscurria geniculata, were reported May 6 in Nature Communications. The velvet spider's genome contains about 2.5 billion base pairs and the tarantula's genome has roughly 6.5 billion base pairs. An analysis of the spiders' genetic codes identified new proteins involved in making silk and in producing and turning on toxins in venom.

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