Christopher Blanar, Ph.D.

Christopher Blanar

Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
(954) 262-8041
cblanar@nova.edu

Education

Area(s) of research

My research interests bisect the fields of parasitology and general ecology. I study the natural and anthropogenic processes that structure parasite communities in aquatic organisms. I also do the reverse and track changes in parasite community structure to answer larger questions about ecosystem processes and ecological health. My projects typically involve some combination of field work in critical Florida habitats (Everglades, mangrove swamps, coral reefs, sargassum mats), laboratory-based work (whether in my facility on NSU’s main campus or with partnering labs at the OCE), and the use of multivariate statistics. That said, my interests extend to the biocontrol of parasites, parasite-induced host behavior modification, and host-parasite interactions in general. My ongoing research partnerships and potential research projects are listed below.

Parasitism in coastal habitats. Projects include a) parasite communities in invasive fishes, particularly the lionfishes (Pterois spp.), and how those communities change over time as the invader becomes established in its expanded range; b) parasite communities in Florida reef fishes and their relation with host trophic guild and foraging behavior; c) the study of how parasite communities change in fishes that undergo ontogenetic niche shifts; d) parasite communities in seabirds in relation to host phylogeny and foraging behavior; and e) parasite transmission in sargassum mats. This research is a partnership with David Kerstetter. Additional partners include Amy Hirons, Sean Locke, and Nicole Kirchoff.

Parasites and migratory behavior in Everglades fishes. This project explores how body morphology, condition, and parasitism affect swimming behavior in small-bodied fishes such as mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki), sailfin molly (Poecilia latipinna), Bluefin killifish (Lucania goodie), and golden topminnow (Fundulus chrysotus). We use a combination of field and lab-based methods, including video analysis, morphometrics, and the use of multivariate tools to link parasite community structure & compositions, morphology, and swimming behavior. This research is a partnership with J-Matt Hoch and Joel Trexler.

Biocontrol of parasitic nematodes using engineered bacteria. Using a synthetic biology approach, we are engineering bacteria to produce chemoattractants (e.g. AHLs) and toxins (e.g. Bt) to attract and kill the soil-dwelling stages of parasitic nematodes. Having established proof-of-concept with the nonparasitic model Caenorhabditis elegans, our work is now turning to testing our system against various nematodes and using mathematical modelling to optimize attractant / toxin production in engineered bacteria. This work is a partnership with Rob Smith and Evan Haskell.

Parasite community ecology. I also work on several additional projects, including a) parasite community structure in small-bodied fishes in response to industrial development and landscape use; b) assessing the role that distance decay, host range, and post-glacial recolonization play in parasite communities of sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus); and c) meta-analyses of bias in parasite community studies. My primary partner in this work is David Marcogliese.

Potential undergraduate (BS and BS Hon) and graduate (MS) projects could be derived from any of the above research collaborations. I also have openings for students interested in studying parasitism in sargassum-dwelling organisms, as well as in columbines (i.e. pigeons & doves). Students interested in joining my lab should email me at cblanar@nova.edu.

Student authors with asterisks

Blanar CA, Hewitt M, McMaster M, Kirk J, Wang Z, Norwood W, Marcogliese DJ (accepted) Parasite community similarity in Athabasca River trout-perch (Percopsis omiscomaycus) varies with local-scale land use and sediment hydrocarbons, but not distance or linear gradients. Parasitology Research (accepted).

Bracho OR*, Manchery C*, Haskell EC, Blanar CA, Smith RP. 2016. Circumvention of learning increases intoxication efficacy of nematicidal engineered bacteria. ACS Synthetic Biology DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.5b00192

Pandya DA*, Blanar CA, Smith RP, Haskell EC. 2015. Modeling and simulation of Caenorhabditis elegans chemotaxis in response to dynamic engineered bacteria. Proceedings 29th European Conference on Modelling and Simulation, May 26-29 2015, Albena, Bulgaria.

Thieltges DW, Marcogliese DJ, Blanar CA, Poulin R. 2013. Trematode prevalence-occupancy relationships on regional and continental spatial scales in marine gastropod hosts. Marine Ecology Progress Series DOI: 10.3354/meps10381

Poulin R, Blanar CA, Thieltges DW, Marcogliese DJ. 2012. Scaling up from epidemiology to biogeography: local infection patterns predict geographical distribution in fish parasites. Journal of Biogeography. DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2011.02667.x

Blanar CA, Marcogliese DJ, Couillard CM. 2011. Natural and anthropogenic factors shape metazoan parasite community structure and composition in mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus) from two estuaries in New Brunswick, Canada. Folia Parasitologica 58: 240–248.

Poulin, R, Blanar CA, Thieltges DW, Marcogliese DJ. 2011. The biogeography of parasitism in sticklebacks: distance, habitat differences and the similarity in parasite occurrence and abundance. Ecography. DOI 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2010.06826.x

Blanar CA, MacLatchy DL, Kieffer J, Munkittrick KR. 2010. Exposure to a mixture of zinc and copper decreases survival and fecundity of Discocotyle sagittata (Leuckart) parasitizing juvenile Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 84: 692-697. DOI: 10.1007/s00128-010-0024-y

Blanar CA, MacLatchy DL, Houlahan J, Munkittrick KR, Marcogliese DJ. 2009. Pollution and parasitism in aquatic animals: a meta-analysis of effect size. Aquatic Toxicology 93(1): 18-28. DOI 10.1016/j.aquatox.2009.03.002

Blanar CA, Curtis MA, Chan HM. 2005. Growth, nutritional quality and hematology of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) exposed to toxaphene and tapeworm (Diphyllobothrium dendriticum) larvae. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 48:397-404.

Blanar CA, Curtis MA, Chan HM. 2005. Environmental dose of toxaphene does not affect growth, stress response and selected physiological parameters in juvenile Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus). Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 75: 436-442.