Disentangling a strand of silk: evolution of silk biosynthesis and associated behaviour in caddisflies

Steffen Pauls & Simon Vitecek

SUMMARY

Caddisflies are semi-aquatic insects closely related to butterflies. Like butterflies, caddisfly larvae are capable of producing silk. Mechanical properties of caddisfly silk resemble those of spider or butterfly silk but caddisfly silk is optimized for underwater use. For example, strands of silk are fastened onto surfaces via adhesive sections to create a silken “lifeline” in strong currents. Other uses include the construction of filter nets, larval retreats or cases, and semi-permeable cocoons. Silk usage is often conserved within taxonomic groups, however, in some cases even closely related species show enormous variation in silk usage: For example, some caddisfly larvae may weave together mineral particles or organic detritus, while others only use silk to build their cases.
In this project, we will sequence the genomes of species representing the different silk uses, as well as transcriptomes of the silk glands to disentangle silk production pathways. This data will allow us to assess i) the phylogeny of caddisflies and evolution of silk usage, and ii) structural differences in genes involved in biosynthesis of silk and silk usage regulation. We will collaborate with insect biotechnologists and material scientists to gauge the potential of caddisfly silk in applied life sciences.

 

TBG GENOMIC STATS:

De novo genomes 0
Re- sequenced genomes 0
Total genomes: 0
Total data: 0 Tera bases

 

SPECIES INVOLVED:

SPECIES: Date (due) NCBI Coverage Quality (planned)  
Potamophylax cingulatus 01.01.2019 No 100x (de novo Gold)  
Rhyacophila dorsalis 01.01.2019 No 100x (de novo Gold)  
Hydropsyche siltalai 01.01.2019 No 100x (de novo Gold)  
Plectrocnemia conspersa 01.01.2019 No 20x (re-sequence)  
Enoicyla pusilla 01.01.2019 No 20x (re-sequence)  
Leptocerus tineiformis 01.01.2019 No 20x (re-sequence)  
Leptocerus interruptus 01.01.2019 No 20x (re-sequence)  
Limnephilus rhombicus 01.01.2019 No 20x (re-sequence)  
Micrasema longulum 01.01.2019 No 20x (re-sequence)  
Micrasema minimum 01.01.2019 No 20x (re-sequence)  
Limnocentropus himalayanus 01.01.2019 No 20x (re-sequence)