Analytical Sciences

Abstract − Analytical Sciences, 35(6), 0645 (2019).

Loss of Phosphate Determines the Versatility of a Spider Orb-web Glue Ball
Yue ZHAO,* Masato MORITA,** and Tetsuo SAKAMOTO**
*Collaborative Open Research Center, Kogakuin University, 2665-1 Nakano, Hachioji, Tokyo 192-0015, Japan
**Department of Applied Physics, School of Advanced Engineering, Kogakuin University, 2665-1 Nakano, Hachioji, Tokyo 192-0015, Japan
Spiders capture their prey by weaving an “invisible” orb-web that has both adhesive and fixed properties. Different types of silk in the orb-web have different functions, wherein the key to capturing a prey is the ball-like glue (glue ball), which coats the silk strands. This glue ball has highly versatile properties, but the mechanisms leading to its versatility remain unclear. The salts found in the web have been previously suggested to play an important role in terms of viscosity, not water. However, the distribution of salt and water in the glue ball has not yet been directly observed. Here, we mapped the salts in different states using a homemade time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometer (TOF-SIMS) with a high lateral resolution. To our surprise, the glue ball was found to contain little water. The functional transformation of the glue ball from a viscous glycoprotein (capturing prey) to a hardened protein (retaining prey) relies solely on the stimulation of mechanical forces. The phosphate is a key factor for its versatility.