Evolution of silk biosynthesis and associated behavior in caddisflies

Institution: Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung

Section Entomology 3, Department of Terrestrial Zoology, Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum

TBG group members

  • Prof. Dr. Steffen Pauls (SGN)
  • Jacqueline Heckenhauer, Ph.D. (SGN)
  • Dr. Julio Schneider (SGN)
  • external: Prof. Paul Frandsen (Brigham Young University)

TBG project area: Comparative Genomics

TBG project summary

The properties of caddisfly silk (polymerizes in aquatic environments, high tensile strength and extensibility) make it an interesting material for potential application, e.g. in surgery. Caddisflies use silk in many different ways, e.g. as underwater life lines, to build filtering nets or living retreats, and even to “glue together” mineral or organic particles to build portable cases. In our TBG project we aim to study the genomic basis of different uses and characteristics of caddisfly silk and how these evolved. We aim to accomplish this by (1) sequencing genomes of all caddisfly groups with deviating silk use behavior to obtain a deep caddisfly phylogeny and (2) comparing the sections of the genome that are responsible for silk production among closely related species of caddisflies that use silk in different ways, e.g. those that build cases made purely of silk with those that build cases with mineral particles.

Group expertise / Methods

  • whole genome de novo assembly and annotation
  • population genetics
  • phylogenetics
  • anchored hybrid enrichment

Organisms / genomes analyzed

Caddisflies (Trichoptera)