15 September 2009

An experiment gone wrong in Hong Kong?

ResearchBlogging.orgI was re-reading the recent paper on the introduction of Marmorkrebs in Italy (Marzano et al., 2009), and noticed this:

In their publication on (sic) Nature, the authors even raised the hypothesis that Procambarus sp. is a transgenic species created by laboratories in Hong Kong.

The only Nature paper featuring Marmorkrebs to date is the first one (Scholtz et al., 2003). I freely admit that I miss things, and do not remember everything. But the paper is only one page, so a statement like that would be hard to miss. And I’d like to think I would have remembered a claim that Marmorkrebs were the result of a scientific experiment gone wrong.

I re-read the Nature paper. The words, “Hong Kong” do not appear in it. There is a brief mention of transgenics, but it is in a comment saying that Marmorkrebs would be good for transgenic experiments in the future, not that they were the result of transgenic experiments in the past. For a moment, I wondered in the reference cited (Nam et al., 2000) next to the comment about Marmorkrebs’ potential was from a Hong Kong lab, but the authors of that paper all gave South Korea as their country of origin.

The origin of this comment is almost as puzzling at the origins of Marmorkrebs itself.

Marmorkrebs already sound like they’ve stepped straight out from a science fiction potboiler. You cannot work with an invasive species of female clones (which Marmorkrebs is) without at least thinking of old monster movies or pulp magazines. If they were truly an escaped science experiment? And “made in Hong Kong” to boot? Forget my next grant proposal... I’m going to work on my screenplay.

(I’d cast Michael Praed to play me in the move.)


Marzano FN, Scalici M, Chiesa S, Gherardi F, Piccinini A, & Gibertini G. 2009. The first record of the marbled crayfish adds further threats to fresh waters in Italy Aquatic Invasions 4(2): 401-404 http://dx.doi.org/10.3391/ai.2009.4.2

Nam YK, Cho, YS, Kim DS. 2000. Isogenic transgenic homozygous fish induced by artificial parthenogenesis. Transgenic Research 9(6): 463-469. http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1026596422225

Scholtz G, Braband A, Tolley L, Reimann A, Mittmann B, Lukhaup C, Steuerwald F, & Vogt G. 2003. Parthenogenesis in an outsider crayfish. Nature 421(6925): 806-806. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/421806a


Wolf said...

Really strange.

I followed the papers too and could not find anything about it either.

This issue is just throwing a bad light on the reviewers, as the Journal claims to be "peer-reviewed".

Zen said...

Having published one article in Aquatic Invasions already and with another in press, I can say that it is definitely peer reviewed.

Obviously, one would always like every reviewer to catch every problem. But then, I'd have a lot less to blog about. ;)

Wolf said...


You´re right.

Mistakes are human and not even dissertations are reviewed the much I´d like to have them.

It is just one more point for being a little sceptical in general, just as you showed to be.