Join Joe Davis and researcher Paul Reginato in creating golden Silks! As part of the piece Bombyx chrysopoeia, Davis offers an intensive workshop in biometallizing transgenic silks. Over four hours on Friday afternoon, you will take part in producing a precious, gold-biomineralized silk sample that you get to take home with you!
The silks were produced by silk moths (Bombyx chrysopoeia) that have been genetically modified to produce silks containing silicatein, a biomineralizing protein drawn from the marine sponge, Tethya aurantia. The sponge uses silicatein to form its silica (glass) endoskeleton from silicic acid, the most abundant form of soluble silica in seawater. In the silk moths, the gene for silicatein is fused with a gene for fibroin, the principal protein in silk. For this project, we do not provide silica for the silicatein to sequester, but rather expose it to a water soluble form of gold, which it “accepts” as a replacement.
In the workshop, silks spun by the genetically modified silkworms are first untwisted, then cooked to “degum” it, a process traditionally employed to remove sericin, a waxy coating that naturally appears on all silks. Fibers are then treated with a chelating agent to remove any traces of metal accumulated by fusion protein in the process of cocooning. Finally, transgenic silks are exposed to solutions containing dissolved heavy metals. As a result, these transgenic silk fibers structurally integrate gold (they can also integrate other selected metals).
This event is a rare opportunity to learn how to perform a cutting-edge technology in the company of famed artist-scientist-pirate Joe Davis!
Please register for the workshop by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost: 250 kr for the workshop, this includes the golden silk and exhibition catalogue when you leave. Limited number of participants!