Cheryl Y. Hayashi

Senior Vice President and Provost of Science, Curator of Invertebrate Zoology, Leon Hess Director of Comparative Biology Research

Professor, Richard Gilder Graduate School



  • Yale University, Ph.D., 1996
  • Yale University, M.Phil., 1993
  • Yale University, M.S., 1990
  • Yale University, B.S., 1988

Research Interests

I am fascinated by molecules of critical adaptive significance, particularly those that underlie the spectacular proliferation of spider silks. Stringent selective forces have molded spider silks into fibers that outperform nearly all other biological and manmade materials.

The phylogenetic diversity of spiders is immense (>40,000 described species), and silks are integral to their fitness. Much of my lab’s research has focused on characterizing members of the spidroin gene family and how the different gene family members encode specialized silks for shelter, prey capture, defense, escape from predators, and reproduction (sperm transfer and egg protection).

We seek to understand the mechanistic basis of this molecular diversity and how it relates to different ecological requirements and biomechanical challenges. We take an integrative approach that combines systematics, whole-gene cloning, transcriptomics, genomics, development, biochemistry, and biomechanics to deeply understand the evolution of spider silk genes, proteins, and fibers. Many of these approaches can be applied to the study of other types of molecules in other non-model organisms.

Additionally, I collaborate extensively with engineers and biomechanics to apply engineering principles to better understand the function/material properties of silks, and also to advance the engineering of novel biomaterials based on spider silk sequences. 



Selected listed below. View all publications.

Chaw, R., S. Correa-Garhwal, T. Clarke, N. Ayoub, and C. Hayashi. 2016. Candidate egg case silk genes for the spider Argiope argentata from differential gene expression analyses. Insect Molecular Biology. DOI: 10.1111/imb.12260

Springer MS, Emerling CA, Fugate N, Patel R, Starrett J, Morin PA, Hayashi C, and Gatesy J. 2016. Inactivation of cone-specific phototransduction genes in rod monochromatic cetaceans. Front. Ecol. Evol. 4:61. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2016.00061

Richart, C.H., Hayashi, C.Y., Hedin, M. 2016. Phylogenomic analyses resolve an ancient trichotomy at the base of Ischyropsalidoidea (Arachnida, Opiliones) despite high levels of gene tree conflict and unequal minority resolution frequencies. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 95:171-182.

Springer, M.S., Starrett, J., Morin, P.A., Lanzetti, A., Hayashi, C., and Gatesy, J. 2016. Inactivation of C4orf26 in toothless placental mammals. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 95:34-45.

Collin, M.A., Clarke, T.H., Ayoub, N.A., and Hayashi, C.Y. 2016. Evidence from multiple species that spider silk glue component ASG2 is a spidroin. Scientific Reports, 6.

Haney, R.A., T.H Clarke, R. Gadgil, R. Fitzpatrick, C.Y. Hayashi, N.A. Ayoub, and J.E. Garb. 2016. Effects of gene duplication, positive selection, and shifts in gene expression on the evolution of the venom gland transcriptome in widow spiders. Genome Biology and Evolution, 8:228-242.

Clarke, T., J. Garb, C. Hayashi, P. Arensburger, and N. Ayoub. 2015. Spider transcriptomes identify ancient large-scale gene duplication event potentially important in silk gland evolution. Genome Biology and Evolution 7:1856-1870.

Vetter, R.S., Tarango, J., Campbell, K.A., Tham, C., Hayashi, C.Y., and Choe, D.H. 2015. Efficacy ofseveral pesticide products on brown widow spider (Araneae: Theridiidae) egg sacs and their penetration through the egg sac silk. Journal of Economic Entomology, tov288.