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Background: Spider silk is one of the most versatile materials in nature with great strength and flexibility. Native and synthetically produced silk has been used in a wide range of applications including the construction of artificial tendons and as substrates for human cell growth. In the literature there are anecdotal reports that suggest that native spider silk may also have antimicrobial properties. Findings: In this study we compared the growth of a Gram positive and a Gram negative bacterium in the presence and absence of silk produced by the common house spider Tegenaria domestica. We demonstrate that native web silk of Tegenaria domestica can inhibit the growth of the Gram positive bacterium, Bacillus subtilis. No significant inhibition of growth was detected against the Gram negative bacterium, Escherichia coli. The antimicrobial effect against B. subtilis appears to be short lived thus the active agent potentially acts in a bacteriostatic rather than bactericidal manner. Treatment of the silk with Proteinase K appears to reduce the ability to inhibit bacterial growth. This is consistent with the active agent including a protein element that is denatured or cleaved by treatment. Tegenaria silk does not appear to inhibit the growth of mammalian cells in vitro thus there is the potential for therapeutic applications. © 2012 Wright and Goodacre; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Wright, S., & Goodacre, S. L. (2012). Evidence for antimicrobial activity associated with common house spider silk. BMC Research Notes, 5. https://doi.org/10.1186/1756-0500-5-326