What are Marmorkrebs?
“Marmorkrebs” is an informal name given to marbled crayfish that were discovered by hobbyists in Germany in the late 1990s.
Marmorkrebs are parthenogenetic: they are all females, and reproduce without sex. This is the only decapod crustacean found that reproduces only this way, giving it incredible potential as a model organism for research. Some of the advantages of Marmorkrebs are that they are genetically identical, reproduce at high rates, and are easy to care for.
“Marmorkrebs” roughly translates from German as “marbled crab.” The scientific name for Marmorkrebs is Procambarus fallax f. virginalis or Procambarus virginalis; they are an asexual relative of slough crayfish (P. fallax) that live across Florida and southern Georgia in the United States. There are no known native populations of Marmorkrebs in North America; the only known cases of them in the wild are where they have been introduced by humans.
Marmorkrebs are also an invasive species. They have been introducted in many places, and have established populations in at least three countries, damaging agriculture and threatening native species. Marmorkrebs should not be used for bait (see here), kept in outdoor tanks or ponds (Marmorkrebs can migrate over land; see here), or placed in any other situation where they could be released into natural ecosystems. In North America, Marmorkrebs are prohibited in Missouri (since 2011) and Tennessee (since 2015). The European Union banned possession, trade, transport, production, and release of Marmorkrebs (and several other crayfish species) in 2016.
View Marmorkrebs introductions in a larger map
Marmorkrebs blog. Award-winning science writing! Updates roughly weekly, usually Tuesday.
Colonies and stocks
North American researchers can contact Zen Faulkes to get Marmorkrebs for research. Establishment of the Faulkes lab Marmorkrebs colony was supported by the National Science Foundation (award 0813581).
Forthcoming research papers
Chucholl C, Wendler F. Positive selection of beautiful invaders: long-term persistence and bio-invasion risk of freshwater crayfish in the pet trade. Biological Invasions: in press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10530-016-1272-5
Koutnik D, Stara A, Zuskova E, Kouba A, Velisek J. The chronic effects of terbuthylazine-2-hydroxy on early life stages of marbled crayfish (Procambarus fallax f. virginalis). Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology: in press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pestbp.2016.08.008
2016 research papers
Chatila Z. 2016. Lentiviral GFP transfection of the parthenogenic crayfish species, Procambarus fallax: a tool for examining the source of neural precursor cells in crayfish. Undergraduate honors thesis, Neuroscience, Wellesley College. http://repository.wellesley.edu/thesiscollection/345/ (Full thesis embargoed until April 2018.)
Chucholl C. 2016a. Marbled crayfish gaining ground in Europe: the role of the pet trade as invasion pathway. In: T Kawai, Z Faulkes, G Scholtz, eds. Freshwater Crayfish: A Global Overview, pp. 83-114. Boca Raton: CRC Press. https://www.crcpress.com/Freshwater-Crayfish-A-Global-Overview/Kawai-Faulkes-Scholtz/9781466586390
Chucholl C. 2016b. The bad and the super-bad: prioritising the threat of six invasive alien to three imperilled native crayfishes. Biological Invasions 18(7): 1967-1988. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10530-016-1141-2
Faulkes Z. 2016. Marble crayfish as a new model organism and a new threat to native crayfish conservation. In: T Kawai, Z Faulkes, G Scholtz, eds. Freshwater Crayfish: A Global Overview, pp. 31-53. Boca Raton: CRC Press. https://www.crcpress.com/Freshwater-Crayfish-A-Global-Overview/Kawai-Faulkes-Scholtz/9781466586390
Feria TP, Faulkes Z. 2016. Predicting the distribution of crayfish species: a case study using marble crayfish. In: T Kawai, Z Faulkes, G Scholtz, eds. Freshwater Crayfish: A Global Overview, pp. 13-30. Boca Raton: CRC Press. https://www.crcpress.com/Freshwater-Crayfish-A-Global-Overview/Kawai-Faulkes-Scholtz/9781466586390
Jackson CJ. 2016. Characterization of locomotor response to psychostimulants in the parthenogenetic marbled crayfish (Procambarus fallax forma virginalis): a promising model for studying the epigenetics of addiction. Master’s thesis, Department of Biology, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/!etd.send_file?accession=bgsu1467967151&disposition=inline
Kaldre K, Meženin A, Paaver T, Kawai T. 2016. A preliminary study on the tolerance of marble crayfish Procambarus fallax f. virginalis to low temperature in Nordic climate. In: T Kawai, Z Faulkes, G Scholtz, eds. Freshwater Crayfish: A Global Overview, pp. 54-62. Boca Raton: CRC Press. https://www.crcpress.com/Freshwater-Crayfish-A-Global-Overview/Kawai-Faulkes-Scholtz/9781466586390
Kasuya A, Nagayama T. 2016. Habituation of backward escape swimming in the marbled crayfish. Zoological Science 33(1): 6-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.2108/zs150099
Kawai T, Crandall KA. 2016. Global diversity and conservation of freshwater crayfish (Crustacea: Decapoda: Astacoidea). In: Kawai T, Cumberlidge N (eds.), A Global Overview of the Conservation of Freshwater Decapod Crustaceans, pp. 65-114. Springer International Publishing: Cham. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-42527-6_3
Korša A. 2016. Epifauna on freshwater crayfish (Crustacea: Decapoda) in Croatia. Master's thesis, Department of Biology, University of Zagreb.http://digre.pmf.unizg.hr/id/eprint/4635
Kato M, Hiruta C, Tochinai S. 2016. The behavior of chromosomes during parthenogenetic oogenesis in Marmorkrebs Procambarus fallax f. virginalis. Zoological Science 33(4): 426-430. http://dx.doi.org/10.2108/zs160018
Kouba A, Tíkal J, Císar P, Veselý L, Fort M, Príborský J, Patoka J, Buric M. 2016. The significance of droughts for hyporheic dwellers: evidence from freshwater crayfish. Scientific Reports 6: 26569. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep26569
Kotovska G, Khrystenko D, Patoka J, Kouba A. 2016. East European crayfish stocks at risk: arrival of non-indigenous crayfish species. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems 417: 37. http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/kmae/2016024
Lipták B, Mrugala A, Pekárik L, Mutkovic A, Grula D, Petrusek A, Kouba A. 2016. Expansion of the marbled crayfish in Slovakia: beginning of an invasion in the Danube catchment? Journal of Limnology 75(2): 305-312. http://dx.doi.org/10.4081/jlimnol.2016.1313
Lokkös A, Müller T, Kovács K, Várkonyi L, Specziár A, Martin P. 2016. The alien, parthenogenetic marbled crayfish (Decapoda: Cambaridae) is entering Kis-Balaton (Hungary), one of Europe’s most important wetland biotopes. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems 417: 16. http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/kmae/2016003
Martin P. 2016. Parthenogenesis: mechanisms, evolution, and its relevance to the role of marbled crayfish as model organism and potential invader. In: T Kawai, Z Faulkes, G Scholtz, eds. Freshwater Crayfish: A Global Overview, pp. 63-82. Boca Raton: CRC Press. https://www.crcpress.com/Freshwater-Crayfish-A-Global-Overview/Kawai-Faulkes-Scholtz/9781466586390
Martin P, Thonagel S, Scholtz G. 2016. The parthenogenetic Marmorkrebs (Malacostraca: Decapoda: Cambaridae) is a triploid organism. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 54(1): 13-21. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jzs.12114
Novitsky RA, Son MO. 2016. The first records of Marmorkrebs [Procambarus fallax (Hagen, 1870) f. virginalis] (Crustacea, Decapoda, Cambaridae) in Ukraine. Ecologica Montenegrina 5: 44-46. http://www.biotaxa.org/em/article/view/19706/19060
Oleha M, Elena F, Alexandra N. 2016. Impact of low-molecule acidic peptides on growth and histological structure of inner organs of marbled crayfish Procambarus fallax (Hagen, 1870) f. virginalis. International Letters of Natural Sciences 56: 1-6. http://dx.doi.org/10.18052/www.scipress.com/ILNS.56.1
Scholtz G. 2016. Happy birthday! The first decade of Marmorkrebs research—results and perspectives. In: T Kawai, Z Faulkes, G Scholtz, eds. Freshwater Crayfish: A Global Overview, pp. 3-12. Boca Raton: CRC Press. https://www.crcpress.com/Freshwater-Crayfish-A-Global-Overview/Kawai-Faulkes-Scholtz/9781466586390
Shinji J, Miyanishi H, Gotoh H, Kaneko T. 2016. Appendage regeneration after autotomy is mediated by Baboon in the crayfish Procambarus fallax f. virginalis Martin, Dorn, Kawai, Heiden and Scholtz, 2010 (Decapoda: Astacoidea: Cambaridae). Journal of Crustacean Biology 36(5): 649-657. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1937240x-00002458
Takahashi K, Nagayama T. 2016. Shelter preference in the Marmorkrebs (marbled crayfish). Behaviour 153(15): 1913-1930. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1568539X-00003399. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1568539X-00003399
Vogt G. 2016. Direct development and posthatching brood care as key features of the evolution of freshwater Decapoda and challenges for conservation. In: Kawai, T. and Cumberlidge, N. (eds.), A Global Overview of the Conservation of Freshwater Decapod Crustaceans, pp. 169-198. Springer International Publishing: Cham. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-42527-6_6
Vogt G. 2016. Research on stem cells, aging, cancer resistance, and epigenetics in marbled crayfish and relatives: potential benefits for human biology and medicine. In: T Kawai, Z Faulkes, G Scholtz, eds. Freshwater Crayfish: A Global Overview, pp. 115-157. Boca Raton: CRC Press. https://www.crcpress.com/Freshwater-Crayfish-A-Global-Overview/Kawai-Faulkes-Scholtz/9781466586390
Vogt G. 2016. Fate of glair glands and oocytes in unmated crayfish: a comparison between gonochoristic slough crayfish and parthenogenetic marbled crayfish. BioRxiv: 8 April 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/047654 [Pre-print]
Yazicioglu B, Reynolds J, Kozák P. 2016. Different aspects of reproduction strategies in crayfish: A review. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems 417: 33. http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/kmae/2016020
For more research papers, click here.
Anonymous. 2007. British crayfish could be wiped out by alien species with the plague. The Daily Mail. 28 June 2007.
Anonymous. 2016. Cangrejo mármol, una curiosa especie invasora con dos caras. Real Jardín Botánico press release. 8 September 2016. http://www.rjb.csic.es/jardinbotanico/jardin/contenido.php?Pag=236&tipo=noticia&cod=5283
Coghlan A. 2003. Crayfish clones poised to invade European waters. New Scientist 2383 (22 February 2003).
Faulkes Z. 2009. How Marmorkrebs can make the world a better place. In: Rohn J (ed.), Grant RP (deputy ed.), Zivkovic B (series ed.), The Open Laboratory: The Best In Science Writing On Blogs 2008, pp. 86-87. Coturnix: Chapel Hill.
Faulkes Z. 2011. The decade the clones came. In: Goldman JG (ed.), Zivkovic B (series ed.), The Open Laboratory: The Best of Science Writing on the Web 2010, pp. 151-156. Coturnix: Chapel Hill.
German Cancer Research Center. 2015. A cray-active solution for cancer research. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-11-cray-active-solution-cancer.html
Heimer K. 2010. Invasion of self-cloning crayfish alarms Madagascar. Deutsche Presse-Agentur wire story.
Horton J. 2013. Scots wildlife at risk from alien crayfish breeds. The Scotsman. 21 April 2013.
Linzmaier S. 2016. Vom Aquarium in den See. Verbundjournal 106: 14-15.
Löwe K. 2010. Gefahr aus dem Aquarium. Mitteldeutsche Zeitung (Central German Newspaper) news story. 13 October 2010.
Pennisi E. 2015. Crayfish create a new species of female ‘superclones’. Science News ScienceShots. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aad1673
Privenau K. 2010. Marmorkrebs bringt Pest. Mitteldeutsche Zeitung (Central German Newspaper) news story. 12 October 2010.
Robbins M. 2009. Owning clones. Tropical Fish Hobbyist 57(7): 72-74.
Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management. 2012. Discovery of marbled crayfish creates concern.
Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management. 2013. First analysis of marbled crayfish completed.
Missouri has added Marmorkrebs to its prohibited species list, effective 1 March 2011. Read more here. Tennessee designated Marmorkrebs as “Class V wildlife,” meaning they can only be kept by zoos, effective October 2015. Read more here and here.
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This site maintained by Zen Faulkes. Last updated 8 November 2016.