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Phylogeny and systematics of the orb-weaver family Araneidae (Araneae, Araneoidea).


The spider family Araneidae represents one of the largest spider families. In spite of this, relationships within the family still remain doubtful. Our study will use morphological characters to reconstruct the phylogeny of Araneidae. The number of studied genera covers 50% of the family. New characters will be derived from extensive scanning electron microscopy. This will also generate an important SEM atlas for a wide selection of Araneid taxa, as well as representatives of 10 closely related families. Ex pected results: Illustrated catalogue of orb-weaving spiders, morphological dataset representing 50% of the family, phylogenetic tree based on morphology. An ongoing molecular project generate molecular data, which will be combined with the our results in order to generate a robust phylogenetic hypothesis for Araneidae based on all available data. Application: specifying relationships among the araneid genera, character system evolution within Araneidae (with reference to web and silk properties), will help material scientists developing artificial spider silk. The results of the project would enable a deeper insight into the differences of silk production of the different species, and thereby lead to a step forward in the applied research on natural silk pr oduction. The production of spider silk is environmentally friendly and completely biodegradable, and do not initiate immune response as implants [surgical threads]. The silk has better properties, than most of the biological and manmade materials. The hos t institute is one of the best places to carry out such studies, since equipment, specialist and experience in international knowledge networking are available here. The scientific host himself is specialized in araneid spider systematics and theoretical c ladistics. Through training, I will aquire skills that can be disseminated to colleagues in Hungary and thereby improve the ERA in the East European region.


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