The employee of Sheki Regional Scientific Center: “In the areas of Azerbaijan clean, multifunctional “clever” silk merchant villages will be created”
Jun 10, 2021 | 12:14

Preliminary results of the dissertation work performed by Zarintaj Shukurova, a scientific worker of “Mulberry silkworm selection” department of Sheki Regional Scientific Center of ANAS, dissertation of the Institute of Zoology of the Academy, by the decision of the Patent and Trademark Examination Center “The method of breeding wild mulberry silkworm” valued as an invention.

Our interviewer Zarintaj Shukurova gave us detailed information about her new scientific achievement.

- Zarintaj khanim, what was the need for the idea of breeding non-traditional wild Saturnia pyri silkworm for silkworm breeding and obtaining specific "wild" silk?

- At present, along with the traditional mulberry silkworm silk, there is a great interest in "wild" silk in the world. In addition to the domesticated mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori, other silkworms are considered wild. Scientists have found that silk from the cocoons of wild silkworms of the Saturdayniidae family of the Lepidoptera family is more durable and more suitable as a bio-compatible nano-smart material due to its physical and chemical properties. Therefore, silk obtained from wild silkworm species has a higher prospect for the development of biomedical technologies and smart materials. For example, Antheraea pernium silk, which belongs to this chapter, has been proven to have a high absorption capacity and is the most durable among natural silk fibers. The breaking load of this type of silk thread is 6.1˖10-3N / tex.

We, in our turn, have begun research in this area to obtain high-tech and low-cost wild silk for the modern silk industry, thus contributing to the search for new biomaterials of higher quality, which is one of the key issues of modern biotechnology. Also, the rich forests and favorable conditions in our country gave reason to think about finding, studying and even breeding local wild silkworms in pottery in the future.

Taking into account that there are broad prospects for the search for local species of these species in our country, we began to search in the green forests and mountain-forest massifs of the north-western region of Azerbaijan. On May 30, 2018, in the area of Bash Shabalid village of Sheki region, a group of Lepidoptera captured a pair of female and male butterflies of Saturnia pyri belonging to the Saturdayniidae family by means of a light curtain trap at night by applying the method of feeding, the final product - cocoon was obtained. For the first time in the laboratory, the "Great Night Peacock" or pear Saturn (Saturnia pyri) - a butterfly was grown in the laboratory. For the third year in a row, in the laboratory of the Sheki Regional Scientific Center of ANAS, wild silkworms of Saturnia pyri are fed and natural silk fibers are obtained. At the same time, of course, our research in this area continues. The preliminary result of the case was assessed as an invention "Method of breeding wild silkworms" by the decision of the Center for Patent and Trademark Examination under the Intellectual Property Agency dated May 21, 2021. This invention has scientific and economic significance and is part of the action plan of the Sheki Regional Scientific Center for the "State Program on the development of cocoons and silkworms in the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2018-2025" in the direction of "Study and application of new methods and technologies of best practices in cocoons and silkworms." is the first research work done.

- What are the advantages of pear silkworm wild silkworms, which are being studied at the Sheki Regional Scientific Center?


- At present, our observations in the laboratory are mainly focused on the wild silkworms of the local pear Saturniya pyri. Insects, which are extinct in a number of countries, are called Saturnids or Peacocks because of the disc-like spot on the wings of a peacock's tail. The main habitat of large butterflies of the Saturnia pyri, which live in the wild, covers Central and Southern Europe, the Caucasus, Asia Minor and Iran. The same species has been recorded in the green foothills and mountainous areas of Azerbaijan. The study of pear saturnia is carried out in the field of silk production, for the first time in the South Caucasus - in our laboratory. During our speech at the 25th conference of the International Silkworm Association in Tsukuba, Japan on November 19, 2019, it became clear that perhaps the experience of using this species as a wild silkworm in the world was first introduced by the employees Sheki Regional Scientific Center of ANAS and the Institute of Zoology.

Pear saturnia is made of wild silkworm cocoons and has a silky brown color and natural luster. In general, wild silk, as mentioned above, is one of the more durable natural fibers, unlike mulberry silkworm silk, mulberry is twice as strong as silkworm silk, and can be compared to steel in terms of strength. Wild silk fibers combine well with other textile fibers and can be used in joint weaving. These fibers withstand temperatures of + 140 ° C without changing the technological parameters.

Saturnia pyri silkworm silk does not conduct electricity like mulberry silkworm silk, and its resistance to ultraviolet rays is much higher than mulberry silkworm silk. It is possible to produce a thick and durable fabric from this silk. In ancient times, wild silk was also called "imperial silk" because at one time only emperors and high-ranking people wore clothes made of that silk, mainly silk made from oak silkworms.

- What innovations can the widespread use of pear saturnia silk in industry bring?

- In order to approach the issue from the economic point of view, it is necessary to study the areas that have the potential to apply the products of the cultivation of Saturnia pyri. We think that it will be possible to obtain high-tech biomaterials, medical and surgical sutures, exclusive silk fabrics from high-quality Saturnia pyri silk. We believe that the ointments made from the above-mentioned silk fibers will be successfully used for protein masks and will create more perfect implants and organ matrices from this type of fibroin.

Achievements in the world experience show that even the pupae of other peacocks (such as oak silkworm) can be used as a starting material for various medical cosmetics, food (oils, spices). In addition, the pupa can be used as a feed additive in livestock and poultry. Note that a pup weighing 1 kilogram replaces 2.5 kilograms of meat as a feed additive.

The feces of pear caterpillars can be used as rich micronutrient fertilizers or compost in the cultivation of greenhouse and garden plants.

If Saturnia is engaged in serious industrial cultivation for the production of silkworm silk as a raw material, it is necessary to create a fodder base. For this purpose, it is necessary to establish specific gardens. This will definitely allow horticulture to become a growing sector and create new jobs.

It should be noted that the cultivation of pear silkworm silkworm, as well as the products of each stage of its silk processing will be useful and will contribute to the creation of waste-free technology.

All this gives reason to say that the work done in Azerbaijan on the cultivation of wild silkworms has promising prospects, and in the near future this direction may become one of the new sections of the country's silkworm breeding. Wild silkworms will help revive industry, create tens of thousands of new jobs, and increase production of silk and silk materials. Because there is a great demand for these products among domestic and foreign consumers, especially in the field of biomedicine and nanotechnology, and their export will allow the inflow of foreign currency into the country.

- How do you think the "wild" silk of Saturnia pyri will contribute to the silk industry of Azerbaijan in the future?

- Sheki Regional Scientific Center of ANAS is interested in achieving the development of the local species of Pear Saturn as a non-mulberry silk sector in the future. The Center is taking all necessary measures in this direction, and is tasked with creating a biologically stable, highly productive population of these silkworms. We think that the silkworm breeding of wild silkworms can be brought to the industrial scale in the territory of our republic, as well as in other countries. There are all kinds of opportunities for this, and, of course, for this purpose it is necessary to get acquainted with the advanced experience and research of countries engaged in non-mulberry silk, such as China, Japan and India. Therefore, a meeting was organized at the Sheki Regional Scientific Center with Rajesh Kumar, a researcher at the Muga-eri Scientific Research and Training Center of the Ministry of Silk and Textile Industry of India, who has achieved great success in this direction. His visit took place from 3 to 5 August 2018 and the meeting was very productive. Rajesh Kumar gave a detailed report on 7 biologically diverse wild silkworms belonging to the Saturdayniidae family that he studied. He shared his experience with a number of special agro-technical measures related to the feeding of wild silkworm caterpillars.

In addition, I personally studied at the Maysur Scientific Research and Training Center at the International Silk Center in Bangalore, India, from December 1-31 created the opportunity to share the knowledge I have gained in India and the information I have gathered about the methods of technological research on cocoons and silk fibers of wild silkworm species with the silk scientists and support staff of our center. Also, given the richness of our existing forests and gardens, the positive prospects for the cultivation of wild silkworms and the wide range of opportunities to do business in this area, I think that as our experiments continue, we should regularly publish the results in local and foreign scientific publications.

At present, all necessary work is being done in this direction to expand research, achieve more successful results and increase productivity. The measures taken are aimed at achieving future goals. In order to expand the scope of the study, it is planned to determine the necessary conditions for the cultivation of silkworms as required for future cultivation. All necessary resources have been mobilized for this. Thus, with the support of the director of the Sheki Regional Scientific Center, PhD on Physics, docent Yusif Shukurlu, enough cherry seedlings were brought from Agdash region and planted. Currently, work is underway to prepare a fodder base. We think that it will be possible to provide wild silkworms with this package next year.

By applying these measures in the future, ecologically clean, multifunctional, multi-profile, "smart" silk villages will be created in all territories of Azerbaijan, including Karabakh, and a production model will be developed that can provide the poor with a high standard of living. To date, Azerbaijan has created ample opportunities and favorable conditions for the development of small business and private entrepreneurship. In the future, in the context of globalization and increasing competition, silkworm breeding will play a special role in the development and application of radically new ideas and principles for the future sustainable and rapid development of the country.

President Ilham Aliyev has always paid special attention to the development of silkworm breeding and signed a number of decrees to strengthen state support in this area. The State Program for the Development of Silk and Cocoon Processing for 2018-2025 states that the restoration of ancient traditions and silkworm breeding should become one of the priorities of agriculture as part of measures to develop the non-oil sector. The implementation of the program should be aimed at strengthening state support for silkworm breeding, development of this sector in the country and increasing the export potential in this direction, increasing employment among the rural population.

In order to restore the world fame of Azerbaijani silkworm breeding and to study and apply new directions and innovative methods, we - silkworm scientists - are trying to fulfill our responsibilities. Our research allows us to say that it will be possible to produce a large number of local species of wild silkworm pear Saturn in our country. We believe that Saturnia pyri will be recognized in the world as a wild silkworm species of Azerbaijan and will be widely used in the northern and southern regions of the Greater Caucasus.

- Have you reported on the method of growing wild silkworms on Saturnia at events attended by research scientists and silkworm specialists dealing with wild silkworms around the world?

- Held in Tskuba, Japan on November 19-22, 2019, Japan, India, Romania, Bulgaria, Iran, China, Thailand, etc. I made a report at the 25th International Congress of Silk Science and Silk Industry with the participation of leading silk scientists of the countries as a representative of the Sheki Regional Scientific Center of ANAS. The report was met with great interest and conditions were created for a broad discussion. It was accepted that the first to bring Saturnia pyri to the silk industry were employees of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences. During the congress, reports on topical issues related to the development of silkworm breeding were heard, the connection of cocoon production with modern science, high technologies, the role and prospects of natural silk in the production of smart biomaterials were discussed, and their solutions were voiced.

I would like to note that the Department of Mulberry Silkworm Breeding operating at the Sheki Regional Scientific Center of ANAS pays great attention to the creation of new species and hybrids of mulberry silkworm, preservation of the existing breed and hybrid offspring, their application in industry. The management of the center closely follows the development of the silk industry in the world, and our delegation actively participates in international conferences and symposiums. Yusif Shukurlu, coordinator of the Republic of Azerbaijan and member of the Central Committee of BACSA, Director General of the Sheki Regional Scientific Center of ANAS, PhD on Physics, docent, as well as is also closely involved in the organization of other events. Despite the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, our Center continues to keep in touch online with silk scientists from BACSA, as well as Cuba, Argentina, Venezuela and Kenya.

Along with the widespread use of modern mechanization and automation, the work aimed at improving technology in modern mines is of particular interest. Because with the application of these innovations, there is an increase in labor productivity and product quality. The theoretical and practical significance of this research will accelerate the arrival of non-mulberry wild silk in the silk industry.

- You are a dissertation student of the Institute of Zoology of ANAS and the study of the wild silkworm of Saturnia pyri is the basis of your dissertation. We would like you to inform us about this.

- I have been a dissertation student of the Institute of Zoology of ANAS for four years and I am working on my dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Biology. My scientific supervisor is Gulzar Mustafayeva, head of the Dry Invertebrate Laboratory of the Institute of Zoology of ANAS, doctor of biological sciences, associate professor.

My other supervisor is Rajesh Kumar, a scientist at the Pampur Central Silk Research and Training Institute of the Indian Ministry of Silk, who has extensive experience working with wild silkworms.

Interviewed by: Nargiz Gahramanova, Sector Head of the Public Relations and Information Department of the Presidium of ANAS