Stronger than steel, yet thinner than a human hair, spider silk is an incredible material created by nature that has amazing potential in real-world application. Unfortunately, accumulating enough of this prized textile can prove to be quite a challenge — not only are the silk producers diminutive in size, but they also fail to be friendly enough to live collectively without killing one another (there goes the spider farm idea). But with challenge comes innovation, and a group of scientists aren’t shying away from the thought of producing this material in economically scalable amounts. So what’s the key to getting your hands on a bounty of spider dragline silk? The Escherichia coli bacteria. Yes, that’s right, bacteria.