What are Marmorkrebs?
“Marmorkrebs” is an informal name given to marbled crayfish that were discovered by hobbyists in Germany in the late 1990s. “Marmorkrebs” roughly translates from German as “marbled crab.” The scientific name for Marmorkrebs is Procambarus virginalis (previously Procambarus fallax f. virginalis). They are an asexual relative of slough crayfish (Procambarus fallax) that live across Florida and southern Georgia in the United States. The only known cases of Marmorkrebs in the wild are where they have been introduced by humans.
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 as invasive species
Marmorkrebs have been introducted in many countries, and have established populations in some. They can damage agriculture and threaten 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.
The European Union possession, trade, transport, production, and release of Marmorkrebs (and several other crayfish species) in 2016. Japan similarly banned breeding and selling Marmorkrebs (and several other crayfish species) in 2020. Marmorkrebs are also prohibited in several North American jurisdictions.
Map of Marmorkrebs introductions
View Marmorkrebs introductions in a larger map
Timeline of key mooments in Marmorkrebs reseach and policy is here.
Marmorkrebs blog. Award-winning science writing!
The portal for the complete Marmorkrebs genome is at http://marmorkrebs.dkfz.de/.
Recent research papers
For comprehensive list of past research papers, click here.
Kawai T, Patoka J. Morphology of gastric mills and mandibles of New Guinean parastacid crayfishes, with comparisons with other Astacidea (Decapoda). Journal of Crustacean Biology: in press. https://doi.org/10.1093/jcbiol/ruaa081
Stara A, Zuskova E, Vesely L, Kouba A, Velisek J. Single and combined effects of thiacloprid concentration, exposure duration, and water temperature on marbled crayfish Procambarus virginalis. Chemosphere: in press. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2020.128463
Vogt G. Evaluation of the suitability of the parthenogenetic marbled crayfish for aquaculture: potential benefits versus conservation concerns. Hydrobiologia: in press. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-020-04395-8
2021 research papers
Hossain MS, Kubec J, Guo W, Roje S, Ložek F, Grabicová K, Randák T, Kouba A, Buric M. 2020. A combination of six psychoactive pharmaceuticals at environmental concentrations alter the locomotory behavior of clonal marbled crayfish. Science of The Total Environment 751: 141383. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141383
2020 research papers
Andriantsoa R, Jones JPG, Achimescu V, Randrianarison H, Raselimanana M, Andriatsitohaina M, Rasamy J, Lyko F. 2020. Perceived socio-economic impacts of the marbled crayfish invasion in Madagascar. PLOS ONE 15(4): e0231773. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0231773
Benson AM. 2020. Identification of innexins contributing to giant-fiber escape responses in marbled crayfish. Master's thesis, School of Biological Sciences, Illinois State University. Stein W, Vidal-Gadea A, advisors. http://doi.org/10.30707/ETD2020.Benson.A
Hossain MS, Guo W, Martens A, Adámek Z, Kouba A, Buric M. Potential of marbled crayfish Procambarus virginalis to supplant invasive Faxonius immunis. Aquatic Ecology 54: 45-56. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10452-019-09725-0
Laurenz J, Georg A, Brendelberger H, Lehmann K. 2020. Effects of nitrate on early life stages of Astacus astacus (Linnaeus, 1758) and Procambarus virginalis (Lyko, 2017). International Aquatic Research 12(1): 53-62. https://doi.org/10.22034/iar(20).2020.671232
Linzmaier SM, Jeschke JM. 2020. Towards a mechanistic understanding of individual-level functional responses: Invasive crayfish as model organisms. Freshwater Biology 64(4): 657-673. https://doi.org/10.1111/fwb.13456
Linzmaier SM, Musseau C, Matern S, Jeschke JM. Trophic ecology of invasive marbled and spiny-cheek crayfish populations. Biological Invasions 22: 3339–3356. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-020-02328-z
Lyko F. 2020. Epigenetic adaptation in a clonal invasive crayfish. Symposium presentation at Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, 3-7 January 2020, Austin, Texas, USA. http://vps40083.inmotionhosting.com/~sicb/meetings/2020/schedule/abstractdetails.php?id=3 (Abstract only.)
Roje S, Švagrová K, Veselý L, Sentis A, Kouba A, Buric M. 2020. Pilferer, murderer of innocents or prey? The potential impact of killer shrimp (Dikerogammarus villosus) on crayfish. Aquatic Sciences 83(1): 5. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00027-020-00762-8
Rusch JC, Mojžišová M, Strand DA, Svobodová J, Vrĺlstad T, Petrusek A. 2020. Simultaneous detection of native and invasive crayfish and Aphanomyces astaci from environmental DNA samples in a wide range of habitats in Central Europe. NeoBiota 58: 1-32. https://doi.org/10.3897/neobiota.58.49358
Son MO, Morhun H, Novitskyi RO, Sidorovskyi S, Kulyk M, Utevsky S. 2020. Occurrence of two exotic decapods, Macrobrachium nipponense (de Haan, 1849) and Procambarus virginalis Lyko, 2017, in Ukrainian waters. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems 421: 40. https://doi.org/10.1051/kmae/2020032
Talasu S. 2020. Identifying dopamine receptor genes and transcription marbled crayfish. Poster presentation given to Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, 22 April 2020. https://digitalcommons.imsa.edu/sir_presentations/2020/session1/76/ (Abstract only.)
Tönges S, Masagounder K, Gutekunst J, Lohbeck J, Miller AK, Böhl F, Lyko F. 2020. Physiological properties and tailored feeds to support aquaculture of marbled crayfish in closed systems. bioRxiv: 2020.2002.2025.964114. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.25.964114 (Unreviewed preprint)
Velisek J, Stara A, Kubec J, Zuskova E, Buric M, Kouba A. 2020. Effects of metazachlor and its major metabolite metazachlor OA on early life stages of marbled crayfish. Scientific Reports 10(1): 875. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-57740-1
Velisek J, Stara A, Zuskova E, Chabera J, Kubec J, Buric M, Kouba A. 2020. Effects of chloridazon on early life stages of marbled crayfish. Chemosphere 257: 127189. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2020.127189
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/
Yonvitner Y, Patoka J, Yuliana E, Bohatá L, Tricarico E, Karella T, Kouba A, Reynolds JD. Enigmatic hotspot of crayfish diversity at risk: Invasive potential of non-indigenous crayfish if introduced to New Guinea. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems: 30(2): 219-224. https://doi.org/10.1002/aqc.3276
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
Anonymous. 2020. This self-cloning crayfish is scuttling into rivers and streams throughout Alberta. CBC News Calgary. 22 April 2020. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/crayfish-alberta-1.5541606
Cepelewicz J. 2020. Nature versus nurture? Add ‘noise’ to the debate. Quanta Magazine. 23 March 2020. https://www.quantamagazine.org/nature-versus-nurture-add-noise-to-the-debate-20200323/
Coghlan A. 2003. Crayfish clones poised to invade European waters. New Scientist 2383 (22 February 2003).
Estonian Research Council. 2018. The marbled crayfish have established themselves in Narva power plant. EurekAlert!
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.
Fujiie H. 2017. War urged to destroy alien cloning mystery crayfish. The Asahi Shimbun (Japanese newspaper) news story. 13 April 2017. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201704130011.html
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.
Le Page M. 2018. Crayfish clone army on the loose. New Scientist 239(3185): 16. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0262-4079(18)31193-X (Published online with title, “Freak accident created a massive army of super-fertile clones.”)
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. https://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.
Zhang S. 2018. A pet crayfish can clone itself, and it’s spreading around the world. The Atlantic
Zimmer C. 2018. This mutant crayfish clones itself, and it’s taking over Europe. The New York Times
Idaho designated Marmorkebs an aquative invasive invertrbrate species in 2010, which makes possessing or transporting them illegal. 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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