Term of Award

Fall 1996

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Jonathan Copeland

Committee Member 1

David Gantt

Committee Member 2

William S. Irby

Committee Member 3

Ellis R. Loew

Committee Member 4

John W. Parrish

Abstract

Spider silk spectral characteristics can be grouped into three categories: (1) spectrally flat, (2) a spectral peak in the UV, or (3) a reduced reflectance in the shorter wavelengths (Craig, 1992, Craig et al.. 1994). Argiope aarantia construct orb-webs which are composed of silks having two different spectral characteristics. This study was designed to determine differences in the spectral characteristics of foundation line silks and decorative silks of Argiope aurantia and to determine the underlying mechanism of those differences. The structural silks (foundation lines, radii, and viscid spiral) have a reduced reflectance in the shorter (blue and UV) wavelengths while decorative or stabilimenta silks are spectrally flat. Neither decorative nor foundation line silk fibers possess any morphological structures that could explain the difference in spectral characteristics. It was found that foundation line silks spectral characteristics, absorbance spectra, and microscopic observations were consistent with the presence of an absorptive pigment.

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