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. 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 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 are also an invasive species. They have been introducted in many places, and have established populations in at least many 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!
The portal for the complete Marmorkrebs genome is at http://marmorkrebs.dkfz.de/.
Recent research papers
For a more comprehensive list of research papers, click here.
2020 research papers
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
Linzmaier SM, Jeschke JM. 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
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.)
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
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
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
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 work by Zen Faulkes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
This site maintained by Zen Faulkes. Last updated 23 March 2020.