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Transgenic plants, animals and insects are all in use in the Lewis laboratory. Goats expressing spider silk protein in their milk were first developed using genes identified in our laboratory by a company in Canada, Nexia Biotechnologies. We now have the goats at the University of Wyoming and are actively milking them and purifying the spider silk protein. In addition to spider silk protein production, these transgenic goats are being studied to better understand the safety of transgenic animals in general.
Alfalfa is also being manipulated to produce spider silk proteins. Transgenic alfalfa will allow us to produce much greater quantities of the silk proteins for far less cost than even the goats can.
Spiders cannot be farmed like the traditional silkworm; they will continually fight which makes large scale farming impractical. So, we asked the question, "Can we make silkworms express spider silk"? As you will find out by following these links the answer is yes!