Small organic solutes in sticky droplets from orb webs of the spider Zygiella atrica (Araneae; Araneidae): β-alaninamide is a novel and abundant component.

Academic Article


  • In northeastern North America, Zygiella atrica often build their orb webs near the ocean. We analyzed individual field-built Z. atrica webs to determine if organic low-molecular-mass solutes (LMM) in their sticky droplets showed any unusual features not previously seen in orb webs of other species living in less salty environments. While two of the three most abundant organic LMM (putrescine (butane-1,4-diamine) and GABamide (4-aminobutanamide)) are already well-known from webs of inland spiders, the third major LMM, β-alaninamide (3-aminopropanamide), a homolog of GABamide, has not been detected in sticky droplets from any other araneoid spiders (27 species). It remains to be established, however, whether or not use of β-alaninamide is related to proximity to saltwater. We observed variability in organic LMM composition in Z. atrica webs that appeared to be influenced more by an undetermined factor associated with different collecting locations and/or collection dates than by different genders or instars. Shifts in composition when adult females were transferred from the field to the laboratory were also observed. Structural similarities and inverse correlations among β-alaninamide, GABamide, and N-acetylputrescine suggest that they may form a series of LMM fulfilling essentially the same, as yet unknown, role in the webs of those species in which they occur.
  • Authors

  • Townley, Mark A
  • Pu, Qinglin
  • Zercher, Charles
  • Neefus, Christopher
  • Tillinghast, Edward K
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • October 2012
  • Published In


  • Alanine
  • Amides
  • Animals
  • Deuterium Oxide
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Putrescine
  • Silk
  • Spiders
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 23081916
  • Start Page

  • 2159
  • End Page

  • 2174
  • Volume

  • 9
  • Issue

  • 10