21 January 2020

Vogt, 2020

Vogt G. 2020. Biology, ecology, evolution, systematics and utilization of the parthenogenetic marbled crayfish, Procambarus virginalis. In: Ribeiro FB (ed.), Crayfish: Evolution, Habitat and Conservation Strategies, pp. 137-227. Nova Publishers: Hauppauge. https://novapublishers.com/shop/crayfish-evolution-habitat-and-conservation-strategies/


The marbled crayfish, Procambarus virginalis, is the only obligately parthenogenetic species of the 15,000 decapod crustaceans. This chapter describes its detection history, biology, taxonomy, geographical distribution, ecology, evolution and utilization. The marbled crayfish was detected in 1995 in the German aquarium trade. Morphological and genetic evidence suggests that it has arisen by autotriploidy from slough crayfish, Procambarus fallax, which is native to Florida and southern Georgia. Since marbled crayfish was neither described in the extensive biogeographical literature on crayfishs of this region nor found in respective museum collections it is thought to have originated in evolutionarily recent times, perhaps in captivity. Genetic investigations revealed that marbled crayfish is of single origin and monoclonal. Comparison of morphology, life history, genetics, reproduction, behavior, ecology and biogeography between marbled crayfish and its parent species and application of the Evolutionary Genetic Species Concept for Asexuals suggests treating marbled crayfish as a separate species rather than keeping it as a parthenogenetic lineage within Procambarus fallax. Beginning in the late 1990s, marbled crayfish was spread from Germany across the world. Releases have led to the establishment of wild populations in 16 countries on three continents. In Madagascar, marbled crayfish has already invaded a considerable proportion of the country. Behavioral and ecological data suggest that marbled crayfish can compete with other crayfish species, even with much bigger ones. Despite of genetic uniformity, marbled crayfish have adapted to a wide range of habitats in tropical to cold-temperate biomes. This was apparently possible by their capability to produce different phenotypes from the same genome by epigenetic mechanisms. Because of genetic identity, high fecundity, easy rearing, the availability of a draft genome and further advantages, the marbled crayfish is increasingly being used as a laboratory model for research including development, neurobiology, behavior, reproduction, toxicology, stem cell biology, genetics, epigenetics, and invasion biology. In Madagascar, wild marbled crayfish stocks are exploited as a food commodity.

Keywords: biogeography • competition • ecology • evolution • invasion • marbled crayfish • parthenogenesis • research model • systematics • exploitation

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