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Title: A novel property of spider silk: Chemical defence against ants
Authors: Zhang, S.
Koh, T.H.
Seah, W.K.
Lai, Y.H. 
Elgar, M.A.
Li, D. 
Keywords: 2-pyrrolidinone
Ant deterrent
Facultative chemical defence
Orb web
Risk of predation
Spider silk
Issue Date: 7-May-2012
Citation: Zhang, S., Koh, T.H., Seah, W.K., Lai, Y.H., Elgar, M.A., Li, D. (2012-05-07). A novel property of spider silk: Chemical defence against ants. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279 (1734) : 1824-1830. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Spider webs are made of silk, the properties of which ensure remarkable efficiency at capturing prey. However, remaining on, or near, the web exposes the resident spiders to many potential predators, such as ants. Surprisingly, ants are rarely reported foraging on the webs of orb-weaving spiders, despite the formidable capacity of ants to subdue prey and repel enemies, the diversity and abundance of orb-web spiders, and the nutritional value of the web and resident spider. We explain this paradox by reporting a novel property of the silk produced by the orb-web spider Nephila antipodiana (Walckenaer). These spiders deposit on the silk a pyrrolidine alkaloid (2-pyrrolidinone) that provides protection from ant invasion. Furthermore, the ontogenetic change in the production of 2-pyrrolidinone suggests that this compound represents an adaptive response to the threat of natural enemies, rather than a simple by-product of silk synthesis: while 2-pyrrolidinone occurs on the silk threads produced by adult and large juvenile spiders, it is absent on threads produced by small juvenile spiders, whose threads are sufficiently thin to be inaccessible to ants. © 2012 The Royal Society.
Source Title: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
ISSN: 09628452
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.2193
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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