Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cobwebs Hold Genetic Secrets About Spiders and Their Prey

A black widow and cricket in a web.

Scientists have discovered traces of DNA stuck on old spider webs. DNA from both the spider and any other creature that has fallen trap to the spider’s web can be collected from old spider webs. These traces of DNA can be of importance to researchers in the fields of conservation ecology, pest management, etc. Scientists amplified cytochrome oxidase 1, a mitochondrial gene, in order to identify a species that may have been on a spider web. This type of technology allows researchers to collect a number of spider webs throughout an environment to possibly detect the survival of endangers species. It also makes identifying species a whole lot easier and humane when you don’t have to capture and kill an organism.

            I personally believe this type of technology is great. I believe in the preservation of natural wildlife, and to be able to easily identify species of animals in a given environment just by a spider web makes it good for conservation ecologists to work. It is also, however, much more humane to organisms when they don’t have to be stripped from the wild and killed. This article was very interesting, and I would like to further investigate how this type of DNA research is benefiting our wildlife.


  1. This sounds like a lovely development! Insects aren't very much noticed in conservation efforts, let alone spiders. being able to see what spiders catch is a non-destructive way of balancing predator and prey. Perhaps this can be used to help see if spiders eat certain pests in greater numbers, and so releasing a bunch of them in a field would help the crop.

  2. This post was so interesting to read DNA collection could be on such a micro scale. The identification of species on a web could very well save humans the hiring of exterminators and the destruction of other species. If you can pinpoint a particular insect it might be cost efficient and less time consuming.