Aquatic silk proteins in Chironomus: A review

Chironomid midge silk protein

  • Leena J. Thorat | Savitribai Phule Pune University, Department of Zoology, India.
  • Bimalendu B. Nath Savitribai Phule Pune University, Department of Zoology, India.


Silk proteins secreted by salivary glands in the dipteran insect, Chironomus play a significant role as proteinaceous adhesives for construction of underwater housing nests by larvae. To date, only three Chironomus species, C. tentans Fabricius, C. pallidivittatus Malloch and C. riparius Meigen have been explored for characterization of their aquatic silk protein. Genes coding for silk proteins are located on specific chromosomal ‘puffs’ called Balbiani rings as well as non-Balbiani ring regions.  Expression of these genes is closely regulated by developmental and hormonal alterations and environmental factors. Furthermore, pilot studies have postulated that silk proteins probably occur in diverse size classes grouped into large (~1000 kDa), intermediate (100-200 kDa) and small (≤100 kDa). Barring few preliminary reports that date back to the 1990s, the physical and bioproperties of silk from chironomid midges remain largely unknown, leading to paucity of updated information. This review was therefore aimed to compile existing literature database and to highlight the wide possibilities for commercialization of midge larval silk as a novel biopolymer.


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Author Biographies

Leena J. Thorat, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Department of Zoology
Bimalendu B. Nath, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Department of Zoology
Supporting Agencies
University Grants Commission- DSK-Postdoctoral Fellowship (UGC-DSK-PDF), DBT Bio-CARe Women Scientist Scheme, DRDP, UGC-CAS (Phase-III) and DST-PURSE grants.
Chironomus, midge, aquatic silk protein, salivary glands, Balbiani ring, biological adhesive, biopolymer
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How to Cite
Thorat L, Nath B. Aquatic silk proteins in Chironomus: A review. jlimnol [Internet]. 11Jul.2018 [cited 31Mar.2020];77(1s). Available from: