|Publication number||US20060118050 A1|
|Application number||US 11/339,346|
|Publication date||Jun 8, 2006|
|Filing date||Jan 25, 2006|
|Priority date||Sep 9, 2003|
|Also published as||US7032537, US20050139161, US20060027172, WO2005022989A2, WO2005022989A3|
|Publication number||11339346, 339346, US 2006/0118050 A1, US 2006/118050 A1, US 20060118050 A1, US 20060118050A1, US 2006118050 A1, US 2006118050A1, US-A1-20060118050, US-A1-2006118050, US2006/0118050A1, US2006/118050A1, US20060118050 A1, US20060118050A1, US2006118050 A1, US2006118050A1|
|Original Assignee||Welshans Wendy L|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Referenced by (1), Classifications (7)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims priority to U.S. provisional patent application having Ser. No. 60/501,355, which was filed on Sep. 9, 2003.
1. Field of the Invention
A method and a housing assembly for farming members of the Phylum Arthropoda in a centralized location to collect silk therefrom.
2. Description of the Related Art
Members of the Phylum Arthropoda, especially referring to spiders, are able to dispense different types of silk from their bodies. The various types of silk are used by the spiders for different purposes. For example, one type of silk excreted from the ampullate glands is commonly referred to as a dragline and is used when the spider ventures from its web. The dragline is stronger than the other types of silk and the spider can climb back up the dragline if there is danger. The various types of silk have specific properties that make them useful for various applications, such as medical, pharmaceutical, or commercial applications. One medical application may use the silk for sutures because the silk is anti-bacterial and biodegradable, while also having very good tensile properties. The silk may also be used as artificial ligaments and to reinforce torn tendons. One commercial application may incorporate the silk into garments for replacing Kevlar vests currently used in ballistic protection.
However, extracting the silk from the spiders has been difficult. It requires large numbers of spiders to produce a large quantity of the silk to be commercially practical. Therefore, other methods of making the silk have been researched instead of collecting the silk directly from the spiders. One method has been to genetically alter goats so that the milk produced by the goat includes enzymes used to fabricate the silk. The enzymes are extracted from the goat's milk and then the silk is made from the extracted enzymes. Other methods have employed bacteria and the like to produce the enzymes for combining to make the silk. The silk made by these methods is useable; however, the silk typically does not have the same physical properties as the silk directly extracted from the spiders.
Various related art references disclose that it is impractical to collect the silk directly from the spiders. The silk produced by the spiders has a thickness of about 1/100th of the thickness of a human hair and therefore many spiders must be used to collect large amounts of silk. It is known by those skilled in the art that the spiders are very territorial and exhibit cannibalistic tendencies when housed in close proximity with one another. Moreover, the references state that when many spiders are left together, only one will remain, as it will have killed the other spiders.
In order to farm the spiders, current methods employ separate cages that keep the spiders separate from one another. However, it has been discovered that the silk produced by the spiders in captivity does not produce the same high quality silk as produced by spiders in their natural environment. It is believed that housing the spiders in enclosed, separate cages increases the stress of the spiders and the increased stress results in the silk having inferior physical properties relative to silk produced from spiders in their natural environment.
The invention provides a method and a housing assembly for farming members of the Phylum Arthropoda in a centralized location to collect silk therefrom. The assembly comprises a wall defining a plurality of frames and establishing an outer periphery defining a work space having a foot print of a predetermined area. Each of the frames defines an open frame space having a predetermined area for housing the members of Phylum Arthropoda to create a web therein. A roof is supported by the wall for covering the frames and the work space. The assembly is characterized by a ratio of the predetermined area of the open frame space to the predetermined area of the foot print of at least 1:5 to prevent territoriality of the members of Phylum Arthropoda.
The method of farming members of the Phylum Arthropoda comprises the steps of disposing the frames about the work space, covering the frames and the work space for protection from exterior environmental conditions, and disposing a member of the Phylum Arthropoda in each of at least two different frames for building webs within the open frame spaces. A food supply is attracted into the open frame space from the exterior environment and the silk is harvested from the members of the Phylum Arthropoda.
The silk collected from the members farmed in the housing assembly of the subject invention has properties and characteristics similar to that of the silk produced by spiders in their natural environment. The subject invention provides adequate space to reduce the stress of the members even though they are in captivity. The space is also adequate to prevent territoriality and cannibalistic tendencies of the members, while also creating a self-sustaining environment for collecting silk.
Other advantages of the present invention will be readily appreciated, as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:
The subject invention provides a method and a housing assembly for farming members of the Phylum Arthropoda 12 to collect silk therefrom shown generally at 10 in
The N. clavipes spiders are preferably farmed in the regions, which they are commonly found. The N. clavipes spiders are found in the southeast regions of the United States through Argentina and Peru. The N. clavipes spider is most commonly found in Puerto Rico. Farmers in these regions are continually cutting down the rain forests for their livestock. However, these farmers could shift their resources from clearing the forests to farming the N. clavipes spiders due to the potential profitability of harvesting the N. clavipes spider silk as a valuable resource.
As shown in
The assembly is characterized by a ratio of the predetermined area of the open frame space 28 to the predetermined area of the foot print 30 of at least 1:5. The areas are best illustrated in
In a preferred embodiment, the predetermined area of the open frame space 28 is at least four square feet. The frames 24 may further comprise a top member 14, a bottom member 16, and side members 18 and the frames 24 are generally rectangular shaped. Other geometrical shapes may be used having less than or more than four sides, such as, but not limited, triangular, circular, or hexagonal, so long as the ratio of the areas is satisfied. Preferably, when the frames 24 are rectangular shaped, the side members 18, the top member 14, and the bottom member 16 are each at least three feet long.
The predetermined area of the foot print 30 is preferably at least seventy-five square feet. The foot print 30 may be any geometrical shape so long as the ratio of the areas may be established. Preferably, the foot print 30 is rectangular and the predetermined area of the foot print 30 is at least ten feet by ten feet. However, the foot print 30 may be other shapes, such as circular or octagonal without deviating from the subject invention.
In one embodiment, the wall 22 comprises a plurality of walls establishing the outer periphery. Each of the walls 22 has at least one frame 24 defined therein, and more preferably a plurality of frames 24 are defined therein. When the foot print 30 is rectangular shaped, there are four walls 22 defining the work space 26, whereas if the foot print 30 was circular, then there would be a single wall 22. The most preferred embodiment has the walls 22 that are each twelve feet long such that the work space 26 has the predetermined area of one-hundred forty four square feet. The frames 24 in this embodiment are four feet by four feet having the predetermined area of sixteen square feet. The ratio of the area of the frames 24 to the area of the work space 26 is 1:9.
Referring again to
With reference back to
Another embodiment of the housing assembly 10 is illustrated in
The centralized housing assembly 10 is particularly well suited for harvesting silk from the members of the Phylum Arthropoda 12. One such method of harvesting silk is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,412,261, which is incorporated herein by reference. The member of the Phylum Arthropoda is removed from the open frame space 28 and silk is withdrawn. After the silk has been withdrawn, the spider is returned to the web 20 in the open frame space 28 to recover and to prepare for the next harvesting. Using such a housing assembly 10 and method as disclosed herein, silk can be extracted from the spiders at rates of about 4,000 feet per 7.4 hours for each of the spiders. Therefore, the collection of the silk directly from the spiders becomes practical when employing the subject invention. Moreover, since the other related art methods discussed above have yet to achieve spider silk with the same properties as naturally occurring spider silk, the subject invention has achieved the farming of spiders which has previously been thought not possible.
Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. The invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described within the scope of the appended claims, wherein that which is prior art is antecedent to the novelty set forth in the “characterized by” clause. The novelty is meant to be particularly and distinctly recited in the “characterized by” clause whereas the antecedent recitations merely set forth the old and well-known combination in which the invention resides. These antecedent recitations should be interpreted to cover any combination in which the incentive novelty exercises its utility. In addition, the reference numerals in the claims are merely for convenience and are not to be read in any way as limiting.
|Citing Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US7587841 *||Jul 3, 2006||Sep 15, 2009||Culpepper Thomas C||Shoe and ankle support with artificial spider web silk|
|International Classification||A01K67/033, A01K29/00, A01K, A01K67/04|