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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society


Web of thought
Environmental scanning electron microscope with a field-emission electron gun

Image provided by Maminirina Randrianandrasana, May Berenbaum Lab

Research funded by the Lindbergh Foundation and the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement 
Special thanks to Catherine Lee Wallace at the Microscopy Suite in the Imaging Technology Group at the Beckman Institute

The strands running across this image are silk fibers secreted by a Madagascar wild silkworm. The structures of the fibers, observed at a microlevel scale invisible to the naked eyes, forms a mesh with crossover points. Silk is used in many enterprises, including production of cosmetics and biomedicine. Studying the properties of this particular silk is important; silk production offers an alternative income to the local people living in the border of the largest remaining forests in Madagascar, and an incentive for conserving local biodiversity.