In their endeavor to find non-invasive methods of studying both animal and plant life, a team of scientists from the University of Notre Dame have managed to score a few points for the team. Mitochondrial DNA was extracted from spider web, thanks to a new sequencing method, the team managed to develop at the prestigious University.
The researchers were able to identify both the spider and its victims using only a few samples from the spider’s web. The black widow spider were chose for this outstanding experiment. The spider was enclosed in a glass container and was fed with common house crickets. After the queen spider finished devouring her prey, the scientists took samples from her web. Using non-invasive DNA sampling techniques, the team actually managed to isolate the spider’s mitochondrial DNA.
The method is deemed to be a major breakthrough, because, neither the spider, nor his victims have been aware of the procedure. This opens up a road leading to whole new methods of studying animal life, without interfering.
Although the scientists said that the method is showing promising result, much of them refrain from opening that bottle of champagne, because extensive research is necessary in order to see if the method actually works.
Now, more on the black widow spider and its behavior. The black widow, also known as the latrodectus, belong to a greater spider family named Theridiidae. This spider family brings together over 33 species of spider.
The black widow, as the name would suggest, is a highly venomous spider. Her glands secrete a powerful neurotoxin known as latrotoxin. Further research has revealed that the spider’s neurotoxin is capable of wreaking havoc on the human central nervous system, though the spider bite itself is rarely fatal.
This spider can be easily recognized after its unique body design. The black widow spider has a brownish or a dark coloration. And not to mention the spider’s trademark: the black widow spider has a red on an orange hourglass, tattooed on its ventral abdomen.
Regarding their behavior, studies have revealed that female black widow spiders practice sexual cannibalism, meaning that after mating with a male spider, the female would kill and consume him. Maybe this behavior was the source of inspiration for the spider’s name.
As stated, a bit from a female black widow spider can have harming effects on humans. Once the latrotoxin enters the bloodstream, it is capable of inducing symptoms such as muscle pain, abdominal cramps, tachycardia, hyperhidrosis or muscle spasms. Usually the symptoms would subside in 3 to 7 days.