Silkworms step up fiber production
Specialty Fabrics Review | October 2012
Kraig Biocraft Laboratories Inc., Lansing, Mich., produces a proprietary fiber, Monster Silk™, that incorporates features of spider web material into a silk base. The transgenic silkworms, which have had spider genes spliced into their DNA, produce the fiber. The genetically engineered silkworms produced silk that was still 96 to 98 percent silkworm, with only 2 to 4 percent of the fiber proteins coming from spiders. Even with such a small uptake of spider genes, the hybrid silk was more than twice as tough as natural silkworm silk. The company’s new laboratory opened in April 2012 and has successfully quadrupled silkworm cultivation, a necessary step to commercial use of Monster Silk in performance and other textile end products.