Suckerfish - ORD Menu

John F. Burka

We have been studying the host-parasite relationship between sea lice, Lepeophtheirus salmonis, and salmonid fishes for the past 13 years in an effort to develop sustainable and effective sea lice management strategies. We have been studying the pharmacodynamics of antiparasitic agents used to treat farmed Atlantic salmon for sea lice. Unfortunately resistance has developed to the drugs being used. Our present research focuses on:

  • Characterizing the mechanisms of resistance in L. salmonis
  • Developing techniques to measure resistance development
  • Determine if resistance is selective or multi-drug
  • Characterize new drug candidates for sea lice control
  • B.Sc., University of Toronto, 1972, Honours Science
  • M.Sc., University of Guelph, 1974, Pharmacology
  • Ph.D., University of Guelph, 1976, Pharmacology
Professor of Pharmacology
Biomedical Sciences
Veterinary Medicine
(902) 566-0810
Research Interests: 
  • Fish pharmacology
  • Biology of the host-parasite relationship between sea lice and salmonid fishes
  • Developing sustainable and effective sea lice management strategies
  • Resistance mechanisms to chemotherapeutants used to treat salmon for sea lice
  1. WESTCOTT, J.D., K.L. HAMMELL and J.F. BURKA (2004). Sea lice treatments, management practices and sea lice sampling methods on Atlantic salmon farms in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada. Aquaculture Research 34, 784-792.
  2.  FALLANG, A., J.M. RAMSAY, S. SEVATDAL, J.F. BURKA, K.L. HAMMELL, P. JEWESS, and T.E. HORSBERG. (2004). Evidence for occurrence of an organophosphate resistant type of acetylcholinesterase in strains of sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis Krøyer). Pest Management Science 60, 1163-1170.
  3.  TRIBBLE, N.D., BURKA, J.F., KIBENGE, F.S.B. (2007) Identification of the genes encoding for putative gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate-gated chloride channel (GluCl) alpha receptor subunits in sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis). J. Vet. Pharmacol. Ther. 30, 163-167.
  4. TRIBBLE, N.D., BURKA, J.F., KIBENGE, F.S.B. (2007) Evidence for changes in the transcription levels of two putative P-glycoprotein genes in lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) in response to emamectin benzoate exposure. Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 153, 59-65.
  5. TRIBBLE, N.D., BURKA, J.F., KIBENGE, F.S.B., WRIGHT,  G..M. (2008) P-glycoprotein in sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) and its Atlantic salmon host (Salmo salar). Parasitology 135, 243-255.
Current Collaborators (non-UPEI): 
  • Dr. Fu Ci Guo, Novartis Animal Health, Victoria, PEI