Structural and mechanical properties of cocoons of Antherina suraka (Saturniidae, Lepidoptera), an endemic species used for silk production in Madagascar

Maminirina Randrianandrasana, Wen Yen Wu, David A. Carney, Amy J.Wagoner Johnson, May R. Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Antherina suraka Boisduval (Saturniidae, Lepidoptera) produces a silken cocoon that has been the focus of efforts to create a commercial wild silk industry in Madagascar. In this study, structural and mechanical properties of the cocoon of A. suraka from two sites were measured and compared to the cocoon of Bombyx mori L. (Bombycidae, Lepidoptera) the world's most common source for silk. Results of environmental scanning electron microscopy and mechanical testing showed that the silk sheet of A. suraka cocoon is less compact, with greater thickness and lower tensile strength and stiffness than that of B. mori. Confirming these results, stiffness and cell and thread density were found to be negatively correlated with thickness, and the cell and thread volumes were positively correlated with thickness. Antherina suraka showed no major differences between silk sheets from Kirindy and Isalo sites in either structural or mechanical properties, except for mean cell volume, which was greater in cocoons from Kirindy. Comparison between the two layers forming the cocoon showed that the inner layer has greater elastic modulus, denser silk distribution and lower porosity. Cocoons from both Kirindy and Isalo are suitable for sericulture. Although the inner layer of cocoon silk is of higher quality than the outer layer, the fact that both layers are of great but lower tensile strength than B. mori silk suggests that the current practice of sewing the two layers together for making one single layer fabric should be continued in efforts to produce a commercially viable product.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Insect Science
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Madagascar
  • Saturniidae
  • Tensile strength
  • Wild silk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science

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