Eggshell spheres protect brown widow spider (Latrodectus geometricus) eggs from bacterial infection

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10 Scopus citations


Eggs provide a rich source of nutrients for the developing embryo, making them a favoured food source for other organisms as well. Several defence mechanisms have evolved to protect the developing embryos against microbial threats. In this article, we elucidate the defence strategy of brown widow spider (Latrodectus geometricus) eggs against bacteria. Antibacterial activity was shown by inhibition of bacterial growth on agar plate, liquid culture and retarded biofilm formation. The defence strategy against bacterial invasion was demonstrated in the whole egg, whole egg extract, egg surface extract, eggshell and eggshell extract. The source and characteristics of this antibacterial activity are distinctive and stem in part from a dense layer of spheres covering the egg surface, likely originated from the oviposition fluid. The spheres are rich in low-molecular-weight proteins, yet their exact composition remains unknown. In this study, we demonstrate that the egg surface is hydrophobic, while the spheres are superhydrophilic. Egg surface roughness and hydrophobicity combined with its antibacterial chemical properties reduce the ability of bacteria to grow on the egg surface. Understanding the properties of these unique structures may contribute significantly to our knowledge of how nature deals with bacterial infections.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20180581
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number150
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Antibacterial
  • Egg surface
  • Spheres
  • Spider

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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