• Characterization of black fly (Diptera: Simuliidae) silk proteins

      Viel, Patrick; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2014-09-05)
      Black fly (Simuliidae) silk is produced by the larvae and pharate pupae and is used for anchorage and cocoon production. There exists limited information on simuliid silks, including protein composition and genetic sequences encoding such proteins. The present study aimed to expand what is known about simuliid silks by examining the silks of several simuliid species and by making comparisons to the silk of non-biting midges (Chironomidae). Silk glands were dissected out of larval and pupal simuliids, and protein contents were separated by sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and visualized with silver stain. Protein contents were compared by mass in kilodaltons (kDa) between life stages and among species. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to expand upon known gene sequence information, and to determine the presence of genes homologous to chironomid silk. SDS-PAGE of cocoons revealed the presence of a 56 kDa and a 67 kDa protein. Silk gland contained as many as 28 different proteins ranging from 319 kDa to 8 kDa. Protein profiles vary among species, and group into large (>200), intermediate(>100), and small (<100) protein classes as is found in chironomids. It is likely that silk evolved in a common ancestor of simuliids and chironomids