Sean J. Blamires - Curriculum vitae
- 2009 to date
- Postgraduate Fellow (NRC, Taiwan), Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan.
- Lecturer, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.
- PhD, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.
- Grad. Dip. Ed., University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW.
- MSc. Northern Territory University, Darwin, Australia.
- BSc. (Biological Science), Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.
- 2013 to date:
Evolution, mechanisms and biomimetic implications of spider silk plasticity
- A combination of high tensile strength and immense elasticity renders spider major ampullate silk (MAS) one of nature’s toughest biomaterials. There is, accordingly, immense interest among bioengineers in harnessing MAS as a biomemetic for a range of purposes, including light weight bullet proof vests, high performance ropes, robot moving parts, and muscle and nerve prosthetics. Cloning the silk proteins (spidroins) and spinning them artificially has so far failed to produce fibers that mimic spider silk’s performance. It is thus imperative that we better understand and trace the relative contributions of spidroin expression and the biochemical and physiological conditions during spinning on silk quality. The most feasible means for understanding the relative roles of spidroins and spinning conditions on silk performance is to investigate their impacts on silk variability (termed silk “plasticity”). Our work investigating the impacts of nutrients and environmental parameters on silk plasticity in orb web spiders so far leads this field of research. We will continue to investigate the role of nutrients and environmental variations on silk plasticity for a wider range of spiders, including web building and non web building spiders. We will also make more in depth investigations on (i) spidroin expression, (ii) protein inter-molecular alignment and (iii) the structure and density of the silk crystals. We will use a combination of amino acid composition analysis, tensile tests of silks in a native and a “ground” state induced by supercontraction of silks, and X-ray diffraction analyses using synchrotron radiation. Our objective is to produce an interactive silk plasticity “blueprint” illustrating how environmental inputs induce silk property variations from nano to macro scales via changes in spidroin expression, inter-molecular alignment and crystal structure. Bioengineers will use the “blueprint” to assist the construction of silk analogues with desirable properties for specific purposes.
The nutritional costs of web building in orb web building spiders
- My work focuses on investigating the nutritional costs of web building in orb web building spiders. Work by the Behavioral Ecology Lab at Tunghai has found that the orb spider Nephila pilipes alters its investment in silk, and the amino acid composition and biomechanics of its silk, in response to feeding on different prey. I aim to resolve whether this is a response to an aspect of the prey; size or vibration signal, or due to changes in nutrient uptake by the spider. I also aim to determine whether changes in silk amino acid composition elicit changes in silk properties or whether the silk properties are altered via rearrangement of silk fibroins. I will extend the work on N. pilipes to other spiders, e.g. Argiope spp. and Cycolosa spp.
- Blamires, S.J. & Tso, I.M. 2012. Ecophysiological influences on spider silk performance and the potential for adaptable, degradation resistant biomaterials. In Silks: Properties, Production and Uses. Aramwit, P. Ed. Nova Science, New York, N.Y. pp 135-149.
- Blamires, S.J. & Guinea, M.L. 2000. The influence of temperature on egg mortality, emergence success and hatchling sex ratio for flatback sea turtles (Natator depressus) at Fog Bay, Northern Territory, Australia. In Pilcher, N. & Ismail, G. (eds.). Turtles of the Indo-Pacific: Research, Management and Conservation. ASEAN Academic Press, London. pp 198–203.
- Liu, M.H., Blamires, S.J., Liao, C.P. & Tso, I.M. Evidence of bird dropping masquerading by a spider to avoid predators. Scientific Reports. In press.
- Sahni, V., Miyoshi, T., Chen, K., Blamires, S.J., Jain, D., Blackledge, T.A. & Dhinojwala, A. 2014. Direct solvation of glycoproteins by salts in spider silk glues increases adhesion and helps to explain the evolution of modern spider orb webs. Biomacromolecules 15: 1225-1232.
- Blamires, S.J., Hou, C., Chen, L.F., Liao, C.P. & Tso, I.M. 2014. A predator’s body coloration enhances its foraging profitability by day and night. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology. 68: in press.
- Blamires, S.J., Sahni, V., Dhinojwala, A., Blackledge, T.A. & Tso, I.M. 2014. Nutrient deprivation induces property variations in spider gluey silk. PLoS ONE 9: e88487.
- Blamires, S.J., Wu, C.C, Wu, C.L., Sheu, H.W. & Tso, I.M. 2013. Uncovering spider silk crystalline variations that facilitate wind-induced mechanical property changes. Biomacromolecules 14: 3484-3490.
- Wu, C.C., Blamires, S.J., Wu, C.L. & Tso, I.M. 2013. Wind induces variations in spider web geometry and sticky spiral droplet volume. Journal of Experimental Biology 216: in press.
- Peng, P., Blamires, S.J. Agnarsson, I., Lin, H.C. & Tso, I.M. 2013. A colour-mediated mutualism between two arthropod predators. Current Biology. 23: 172-176.
- Blamires, S.J., Hou, C., Chen, L.F., Liao, C.P. & Tso, I.M. 2013. Three-dimensional barricading of a predatory trap reduces predation and enhances prey capture. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology. 67: 709-714.
- Blamires, S.J. & Tso, I.M. 2013. Nutrient mediated architectural plasticity of a predatory trap. PLoS ONE. 8: e54558.
- Blamires, S.J. & Spencer, R-J. 2013. Influences of habitat and predation on population dynamics of the freshwater turtle Myuchelys georgesi. Herpetologica 69: 46-57.
- Blamires, S.J., Wu, C.L., Blackledge, T.A. & Tso, I.M. 2012. Post-secretion processing influences spider silk performance. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 9: 2479-2487.
- Blamires, S.J., Wu, C.L. & Tso, I.M. 2012. Variations in protein intake induces variations in spider silk expression. PLoS ONE. 7: e31626.
- Blamires, S.J., Wu, C.L., Blackledge, T.A. & Tso, I.M. 2012. Environmentally-induced post-spin property changes in spider silks: influences of web type, spidroin composition and ecology. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 106: 580-588.
- Blamires, S.J., Lai. C.H. Cheng, R.C., Liao, C.P., Shen, P.S. & Tso, I.M. 2012. Body spot coloration of a nocturnal sit-and-wait predator visually lures prey. Behavioral Ecology 23: 69-74.
- Tseng, H.J., Cheng, R.C., Wu, S.H., Blamires, S.J. & Tso, I.M. 2011. Trap barricading and decorating by a well-armored predator: extra protection or prey attraction? Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology 65: 2351-2359.
- Blamires S.J. 2011. Nutritional implications for sexual cannibalism in a sexually dimorphic orb web spider. Austral Ecology 36: 389-394
- Blamires, S.J., Chao, I.C., Liao, C.P. & Tso, I.M. 2011. Multiple prey cues induce foraging flexibility in a trap-building predator. Animal Behaviour 81:955-961.
- Blamires, S.J., Lee, Y.H., Chang, C.M., Lin, I.T., Chen, J.A., Lin, T.Y. & Tso, I.M. 2010. Multiple structures interactively influence prey capture efficiency in spider orb webs. Animal Behaviour 80: 947-953.
- Blamires, S.J., Chao, I.C. & Tso, I.M. 2010. Prey type, vibrations and handling interactively influence spider silk expression. Journal of Experimental Biology 213: 3906-3910.
- Blamires, S.J. 2010. Plasticity of an extended phenoptype: orb web architectural response to varying prey parameters. Journal of Experimental Biology 213: 3207-3212
- Blamires, S.J., Hochuli, D.F. & Thompson, M.B. 2009. Prey protein content influences growth and web decoration building in an orb building spider. Ecological Entomology 34(5): 545–550.
- Blamires, S.J., Hochuli, D.F. & Thompson, M.B. 2008. Why cross the web: decoration spectral properties and prey capture in an orb spider (Argiope keyserlingi) web. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 94(2): 221–229.
- Blamires, S.J., Thompson, M.B. & Hochuli, D.F. 2007. Habitat selection and web plasticity by the orb spider Argiope keyserlingi: do they compromise foraging success for predator avoidance? Austral Ecology. 32(5): 551–563.
- Blamires, S.J., Hochuli, D.F. & Thompson, M.B. 2007. Does decoration building influence antipredator responses in an orb-web spider (Argiope keyserlingi) in its natural habitat? Australian Journal of Zoology 55(1): 1–7.
- Blamires, S.J., Spencer, R-J., King, P. & Thompson, M.B. 2005. Population parameters and life table analysis of two co-existing freshwater turtles: are the Bellinger river turtle populations threatened? Wildlife Research 32(4): 339–347.
- Blamires, S.J. 2004. Habitat preferences of coastal goannas (Varanus panoptes): are they exploiters of sea turtle nests at Fog Bay, Australia?. Copeia. 2004(2): 370–377.
- Blamires, S.J. & Guinea, M.L. 2003. Emergence success of Flatback Sea Turtles (Natator depressus) at Fog Bay, Northern Territory, Australia. Chelonian Conservation and Biology. 4(3): 548–556.
- Blamires, S.J., Guinea, M.L. & Prince, R.I.T. 2003. Influence of nest site selection on predation of Flatback Sea Turtle (Natator depressus) nests by varanid lizards in northern Australia. Chelonian Conservation and Biology. 4(3): 557–564.
- Blamires, S.J. 1999. Factors influencing the escape response of an arboreal agamid lizard of tropical Australia. Canadian Journal of Zoology 77(12): 1998–2003.
- Blamires, S.J. & Christian, K.A. 1999. Seasonal water loss of the lizard Lophognathus temporalis in the wet-dry tropics of northern Australia. Amphibia-Reptilia 20(2): 211–215.
Updated: Jan., 2014.
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© Sean J. Blamires, 2010-2013. All rights reserved.