Caddisfly (Trichopera) can glue diverse material underwater with a silk fiber. This makes it a particularly interesting subject for biomimetcs. Better understanding of silk composition and structure could lead to an adhesive capable to close bleeding wounds or to new biomaterials. However, while spiderweb or silkworm secretion is well researched, caddisfly silk is still poorly understood. Here we report a first nanomechanical analysis of H. Angustipennis caddisfly silk fiber. An Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) imaging shows dense 150 nm bumps on silk surface, which can be identified as one of features responsible for its outstanding adhesive properties. AFM force spectroscopy at the fiber surface showed, among others, characteristic saw like pattern. This pattern is attributed to sacrificial bond stretching and enhances energy dissipation in mechanical deformation. Similarities of some force curves observed on Tegenaria domestica spiderweb and caddisfly silk are also discussed. Steered Molecular Dynamics simulations revealed that the strength of short components of Fib-H HA species molecules, abundant in Trichoptera silk is critically dependent on calcium presence.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.