Small, bluish-gray, and spotted, marble crayfish will be easy to ignore. Otherwise it is likely to come to a pond or river near you soon – if it is not already there. The whole female freshwater crustacean has become a focal point of fascination for scientists in recent years, due to the unique power of decapods – a family that includes shrimp, crabs and lobsters – to clone itself and adapt quickly to new environments.
The marble crayfish was first recognized in 1995, when a biology student bought a bag of crayfish from American merchants at a pet fair in Frankfurt and sold it to him as “Texas crayfish.” After they began to become burdensome for their new owner because of their indescribably fast breeding, he distributed them among his friends, who, in turn, dumped them in rivers, lakes and toilets, from where they spread rapidly throughout Germany, most of the mainland. Europe, and most broadly, the island Madagascar, Unique but extremely delicate freshwater ecosystem habitat.
When Dr. Frank Lyko, Professor of German Epigenetics Cancer The Research Center (DKFZ), which first came across the animals, is mentioned Marble crab, He was amazed at the ability to reproduce clonally from a single cell like a cancerous tumor and saw it as an ideal model for their research.
“All marble crayfish share the same genome,” he said in a video call from his office in Heidelberg. “But they adapt and rush to different environments, which makes them scientifically significant and like a tumor that adapts to its environment.”
Laiko led The ambitious genome study Which established the remarkable fact that all marble crayfish originated from a single foundation female. They reproduce without sex through parthenogenesis. In 2015, she named all-female crustaceans their species Procambarus virginalis.
During his research, Lyco recalls driving with his students to a lake about 15 minutes from his lab. “We waited until it was dark, then suddenly they appeared in their hundreds and thousands,” he said, donating a torch and a wader over his head and standing at the foot of the water. “With the net in hand, we grabbed them from behind and put them in the bucket. It was so exciting. After that, we started experimenting with them and found that they were very tasty. “
“The more we eat, the better.”
Inside Germany, Where marble crayfish have attacked lakes and rivers, authorities have cracked down on them.
Klaus Hidde, a retired bank clerk turned hobby fisherman, was commissioned last year by the Berlin Senate Environment Department to set a trap for crayfish, which was found in two lakes on the west end of Berlin. Not only are crayfish at risk of killing endemic species, but they can also carry the so-called crayfish plague, ”he said, referring to a fungal disease that is a hugely successful market for European crayfish that became extinct almost 150 years ago.