Sean J. Blamires - Curriculum vitae

Sean J. Blamires


Postdoctoral research


Academic positions

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.


Book section

Journal articles

Updated: Jan., 2014.

Go back to Members - Behavioral Ecology Lab, Department of Life Science, Tunghai University.

© Sean J. Blamires, 2010-2013. All rights reserved.