The use of recombinant honeybee silk for rational design of advanced materials

Sutherland TD and Rapson TD

CSIRO, Health and Biosecurity.

Precise control of a polymers composition is required for the rational design of advanced materials such as stimuli responsive or multifunctional materials. Recombinant protein systems provide this control, and in contrast to synthetic equivalents are compatible with large scale production. However, despite the promise of proteins for advanced material design, protein-based materials are underrepresented in materials science. Here we describe our efforts to develop recombinant silk proteins that are tolerant of amino acid modifications without compromising the ability to produce the proteins at large scale in recombinant systems or fabricate them into material forms. We describe design of the silk proteins into materials with diverse functional properties ranging from recoverable heme-silk sponges with peroxidase activity, stable nitric oxide-sensing protein films and in electrodes capable of fully reducing oxygen to water.