Did you Know There is a Lot of DNA in Cobwebs?
Before jumping to a vacuum or paper towel to clean up a cobweb you have lying around your house, you may want to consider the valuable scientific information that the web contains. I’m sure you are thinking that this information most likely isn’t important to you; however on the flip side, scientist find huge value in this data. So what exactly is this “valuable” scientific information.
Spider’s sticky webs contain a lot of DNA! The DNA of the spider itself, and whatever prey was unlucky enough to be caught in the web. This type of information is so valuable to scientists because they can amplify and sequence these samples in a lab and can clue in on what kind of spiders are building these webs and what type of prey that are catching. This genetic sequencing method is also becoming less expensive that other methods and easier for scientists to collect data instead of chasing, capturing and killing.
Aside from knowing exactly which spider species has built the web, and who the prey is, this information is valuable on other levels too! Charles C.Y. Xu, a graduate student in Erasmus Mundus Master Programme in evolutionary Biology says this information is important for many different things such as conservation ecology all the way to pest management.
What do you do with the webs you find?