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Concept: Bombyx mandarina


Bombyx mori cypovirus is a major pathogen which causes significant losses in silkworm cocoon harvests because the virus particles are embedded in micrometer-sized protein crystals called polyhedra and can remain infectious in harsh environmental conditions for years. But the remarkable stability of polyhedra can be applied on slow-release carriers of cytokines for tissue engineering. Here we show the complete healing in critical-sized bone defects by bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) encapsulated polyhedra. Although absorbable collagen sponge (ACS) safely and effectively delivers recombinant human BMP-2 (rhBMP-2) into healing tissue, the current therapeutic regimens release rhBMP-2 at an initially high rate after which the rate declines rapidly. ACS impregnated with BMP-2 polyhedra had enough osteogenic activity to promote complete healing in critical-sized bone defects, but ACS with a high dose of rhBMP-2 showed incomplete bone healing, indicating that polyhedral microcrystals containing BMP-2 promise to advance the state of the art of bone healing.

Concepts: Bombyx mandarina, Healing, Bone, Bombyx, Bombycidae, Extracellular matrix, Collagen, Bombyx mori


Moth-eye nanostructures are a well-known example of biological antireflective surfaces formed by pseudoregular arrays of nipples and are often used as a template for biomimetic materials. Here, we provide morphological characterization of corneal nanostructures of moths from the Bombycidae family, including strains of domesticated Bombyx mori silk-moth, its wild ancestor Bombyx mandarina, and a more distantly related Apatelodes torrefacta. We find high diversification of the nanostructures and strong antireflective properties they provide. Curiously, the nano-dimple pattern of B. mandarina is found to reduce reflectance as efficiently as the nanopillars of A. torrefacta. Access to genome sequence of Bombyx further permitted us to pinpoint corneal proteins, likely contributing to formation of the antireflective nanocoatings. These findings open the door to bioengineering of nanostructures with novel properties, as well as invite industry to expand traditional moth-eye nanocoatings with the alternative ones described here.

Concepts: Virus, DNA, Lepidoptera, Gene, Bombyx mandarina, Bombycidae, Bombyx mori, Bombyx


Silks are remarkable materials with desirable mechanical properties, yet the fine details of natural production remain elusive and subsequently inaccessible to biomimetic strategies. Improved knowledge of the natural processes could therefore unlock development of a host of bio inspired fibre spinning systems. Here, we use the Chinese silkworm Bombyx mori to review the pressure requirements for natural spinning and discuss the limits of a biological extrusion domain. This provides a target for finite element analysis of the flow of silk proteins, with the aim of bringing the simulated and natural domains into closer alignment. Supported by two parallel routes of experimental validation, our results indicate that natural spinning is achieved, not by extruding the feedstock, but by the pulling of nascent silk fibres. This helps unravel the oft-debated question of whether silk is pushed or pulled from the animal, and provides impetus to the development of pultrusion-based biomimetic spinning devices.The natural production of silks remains elusive and subsequently inaccessible to biomimetic strategies. Here the authors show that silks cannot be spun by pushing alone, and that natural spinning is dominated by pultrusion, which provides design guidelines for future biomimetic spinning systems.

Concepts: Sericulture, Bombyx mandarina, Bombyx, Bombycidae, Finite element method, Engineering, Silk, Bombyx mori


Naturally spun silks generate fibres with unique properties, including strength, elasticity and biocompatibility. Here we describe a microfluidics-based strategy to spin liquid native silk, obtained directly from the silk gland of Bombyx mori silkworms, into micron-scale capsules with controllable geometry and variable levels of intermolecular β-sheet content in their protein shells. We demonstrate that such micrococoons can store internally the otherwise highly unstable liquid native silk for several months and without apparent effect on its functionality. We further demonstrate that these native silk micrococoons enable the effective encapsulation, storage and release of other aggregation-prone proteins, such as functional antibodies. These results show that native silk micrococoons are capable of preserving the full activity of sensitive cargo proteins that can aggregate and lose function under conditions of bulk storage, and thus represent an attractive class of materials for the storage and release of active biomolecules.

Concepts: History of silk, Sericulture, Bombyx mandarina, Bombycidae, Bombyx, Molecular biology, Bombyx mori, Silk


Beauveria bassiana is an important entomopathogenic fungus that not only often causes infection and epidemics of wild insects but some strains also show pathogenicity to the silkworm, Bombyx mori. The present study is about diversity of B. bassiana isolated from the silkworm in southwest China. Five strains of B. bassiana were isolated from infected silkworm. Two isolates, GXtr1009 and GXtr1010, were isolated from infected silkworms treated with two kinds of biological pesticides applied in Guangxi province, and three isolates, SCsk1006, YNsk1106 and GXsk1011, were collected from naturally infected silkworms from different geographical locations in Yunnan and Sichuan. All of the isolates showed highly similar conidia and conidial fructification, but the colony characteristics demonstrated great differences among the isolates. The ITS and 18S rDNA sequence analysis was sufficient to identify all five isolates as B. bassiana. However, the dendrogram, based on the ISSR data, produced two large genetic groups. GXtr1009 and GXtr1010 comprised one group, and SCsk1006, YNsk1106 and GXsk1011 converged in a different large group. The results suggested that, although all of these five B. bassiana strains were pathogenic to silkworms, strains of biological pesticides could be differentiated from strains of naturally infected silkworm via ISSR analysis.

Concepts: Beauveria bassiana, Bombyx mandarina, Fungus, Guizhou, Bombyx, Bombycidae, Bombyx mori, Yunnan


Lepidopteran silks number in the thousands and display a vast diversity of structures, properties, and industrial potential. To map this remarkable biochemical diversity, we present an identification and screening method based on the infrared spectra of native silk feedstock and cocoons. Multivariate analysis of over 1214 infrared spectra obtained from 35 species allowed us to group silks into distinct hierarchies and a classification that agrees well with current phylogenetic data and taxonomies. This approach also provides information on the relative contents of sericin, calcium oxalate, phenolic compounds, poly-alanine and poly(alanine-glycine) β-sheets. It emerged that the domesticated mulberry silk-moth Bombyx mori represents an outlier compared to other silk moth taxa in terms of spectral properties. Interestingly, Epiphora bauhiniae was found to contain the highest amount of β-sheet reported to date for any wild silk-moth. We conclude our approach provides a new route to determine cocoon chemical composition and in turn a novel, biological as well as material, classification of silks.

Concepts: Bombyx mandarina, Caterpillar, Species, Spectroscopy, Infrared spectroscopy, Lepidoptera, Silk, Bombyx mori


Heat tolerance is a key parameter that affects insect distribution and abundance. Glyphodes pyloalis Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) is a devastating pest of mulberry in the main mulberry-growing regions and can cause tremendous losses to sericulture by directly feeding on mulberry leaves and transmitting viruses to Bombyx mori. Moreover, G. pyloalis shows a prominent capacity for adaptation to daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations and can survive several hours under high temperature. To date, the molecular mechanism underlying the outstanding adaptability of this pest to high temperature remains unclear.

Concepts: Insects, Bombyx mandarina, Caterpillar, Insect, Mimicry, Lepidoptera, Bombyx mori


Antheraea yamamai, also known as the Japanese oak silk moth, is a wild species of silk moth. Silk produced by A. yamamai, referred to as tensan silk, shows different characteristics such as thickness, compressive elasticity and chemical resistance compared to common silk produced from the domesticated silkworm, Bombyx mori. Its unique characteristics have led to its use in many research fields including biotechnology and medical science, and the scientific as well as economic importance of the wild silk moth continues to gradually increase. However, no genomic information for the wild silk moth, including A. yamamai, is currently available.

Concepts: Antheraea, Bombyx mandarina, Caterpillar, Human Genome Project, Moth, Bombyx mori, Silk, Saturniidae


Diapause hormone (DH) is a 24-aa amidated neuropeptide that elicits the embryonic diapause of the silkworm, Bombyx mori (Bommo), via sensitive and selective interaction with its receptor, Bommo DH receptor (Bommo-DHR). Previous studies of the structure-activity relationship of Bommo-DH were all based on an in vivo diapause-induction bioassay, which has provided little information on the structure of Bommo-DHR or its iteration with DH. Here, to unveil the interaction of Bommo-DH with its receptor, N-terminally truncated analogs and alanine-scanning mutants of Bommo-DH were chemically synthesized and functionally evaluated by using a Cy5.5-labeled Bommo-DH competitive binding assay and Bommo-DHR-based functional assays, including cAMP assay and Ca(2+) mobilization assay. Our study demonstrates that the C-terminal residues of Arg23 and Leu24 of Bommo-DH are essential for the binding and activation of Bommo-DHR, and that Trp19 and Phe20 also contribute to the functional activity of Bommo-DH. In contrast, when Gly21 or Pro22 were replaced with alanine, both mutants exhibited binding and signaling activities that were indistinguishable from the wild-type peptide. Furthermore, our homology modeling and molecular dynamics simulations, together with experimental validations, have identified the residues of Glu89, Phe172, Phe194, and Tyr299 in Bommo-DHR that are critically involved in the interaction with Bommo-DH. These results may deepen our understanding of the interactions of class-A GPCRs with their peptidic ligands, particularly those between pheromone biosynthesis-activating neuropeptide/DH family neuropeptides and their cognate receptors.-Shen, Z., Jiang, X., Yan, L., Chen, Y., Wang, W., Shi, Y., Shi, L., Liu, D., Zhou, N. Structural basis for the interaction of diapause hormone with its receptor in the silkworm, Bombyx mori.

Concepts: Force field, Endocrinology, Bombyx mandarina, Bombyx, Signal transduction, Bombycidae, Bombyx mori, Protein


Nanostructures underpin the excellent properties of silk. Although the bulk nanocomposition of silks is well studied, direct evidence of the spatial variation of nanocrystalline (ordered) and amorphous (disordered) structures remains elusive. Here, secondary electron hyperspectral imaging can be exploited for direct imaging of hierarchical structures in carbon-based materials, which cannot be revealed by any other standard characterization methods. Through applying this technique to silks from domesticated (Bombyx mori) and wild (Antheraea mylitta) silkworms, a variety of previously unseen features are reported, highlighting the local interplay between ordered and disordered structures. This technique is able to differentiate composition on the nanoscale and enables in-depth studies into the relationship between morphology and performance of these complex biopolymer systems.

Concepts: History of silk, Sericulture, Bombyx mandarina, Bombycidae, Bombyx, Materials science, Bombyx mori, Silk