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Spider genomes provide insight into composition and evolution of venom and silk

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  • Kristian W Sanggaard, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Jesper S Bechsgaard
  • Xiaodong Fang, 1] BGI-Tech, BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518083, China [2] Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark [3].
  • ,
  • Jinjie Duan
  • Thomas F Dyrlund, Denmark
  • Vikas Gupta, Denmark
  • Xuanting Jiang, BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518083, China
  • ,
  • Ling Cheng, BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518083, China
  • ,
  • Dingding Fan, BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518083, China
  • ,
  • Yue Feng, BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518083, China
  • ,
  • Lijuan Han, BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518083, China
  • ,
  • Zhiyong Huang, BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518083, China
  • ,
  • Zongze Wu, BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518083, China, Denmark
  • Li Liao, BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518083, China, Denmark
  • Virginia Settepani
  • Ida B Thøgersen
  • Bram Vanthournout, Denmark
  • Tobias Wang
  • Yabing Zhu, BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518083, China, Denmark
  • Peter Funch
  • Jan Johannes Enghild
  • Leif Schauser, CLC bio, Silkeborgvej 2, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark., Denmark
  • Stig U Andersen
  • Palle Villesen
  • Mikkel Heide Schierup
  • Trine Bilde
  • Jun Wang, University of Copenhagen, King Abdulaziz University, BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518083, China, Denmark

Spiders are ecologically important predators with complex venom and extraordinarily tough silk that enables capture of large prey. Here we present the assembled genome of the social velvet spider and a draft assembly of the tarantula genome that represent two major taxonomic groups of spiders. The spider genomes are large with short exons and long introns, reminiscent of mammalian genomes. Phylogenetic analyses place spiders and ticks as sister groups supporting polyphyly of the Acari. Complex sets of venom and silk genes/proteins are identified. We find that venom genes evolved by sequential duplication, and that the toxic effect of venom is most likely activated by proteases present in the venom. The set of silk genes reveals a highly dynamic gene evolution, new types of silk genes and proteins, and a novel use of aciniform silk. These insights create new opportunities for pharmacological applications of venom and biomaterial applications of silk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3765
JournalNature Communications
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Research areas

  • Biological sciences, Evolution, Genetics

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