Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research Could Boost Coastal Economics with Crustacean Molting on Demand

29.10.2009
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) researchers are close to unraveling intricate cellular pathways that control molting in blue crabs. The discoveries could revolutionize the soft-shell crab industry, generating new jobs and additional profits for the U.S. fishing industry along the coastal Southeast.

Soft-shelled blue crabs are a delicacy enjoyed by food lovers each spring and early summer when the crustaceans naturally molt their hard outer shell in the wild. Molting is the process by which the crab discards its exoskeleton, replacing it with a temporarily soft, pliable new exoskeleton that is easy to eat.

Despite being limited by the crab’s annual molting patterns, the blue crab fishing industry is valued at nearly $50 million a year in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. The ability to manipulate molting, or facilitate molting on demand, could make the blue crab available to consumers year-round, potentially boosting the industry’s overall economic impact.

UAB biologist and researcher Doug Watson, Ph.D., and his research team believe they have identified the blue crab molt-inhibiting hormone (MIH) receptor, a key protein in the cellular pathway that controls molting. They are testing a compound designed to block the MIH receptor in the hopes of inducing molting.

“No one yet has isolated or characterized this MIH receptor for any crustacean, but we think we have isolated a gene that codes for that receptor,” Watson says. “We’re not 100 percent sure yet, but the gene we have cloned has all the characteristics of the MIH receptor. We’re trying to determine for sure if it is.”

Conceivably, then the growth of the animals could be controlled, and this could create jobs and stimulate local economies through private aquaculture or farming operations across every state touching the ocean – from Texas to Maryland, Watson says.

“Induced molting probably would have to take place in an aquaculture setting because it would be difficult to control in the wild,” Watson says. “Once the blue crabs molt in the wild they are very vulnerable to predators because their shell is so soft.”

The identification and characterization of the MIH receptor also would constitute a significant contribution to the field of invertebrate endocrinology.

“That’s the basic science and a key to answering the question of how growth and development are regulated in this group of organisms with so much ecological and economical importance,” Watson says.

Watson says they will either need to develop an injection or food pellet that could be used to induce the molting process.

Watson’s research is being conducted through a two-year grant funded by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium and a pilot grant from the Center for Biophysical Sciences and Engineering at UAB. His research team includes colleagues Teruaki Nakatsuji, Junying Zheng and current UAB graduate students Hsiang-Yin Chen and Anna Pendleton.

About the UAB Department of Biology

The UAB Department of Biology is a dynamic academic partnership that provides a broad-based graduate and undergraduate curriculum. Most members of the graduate faculty have research specialties in comparative biochemistry, physiology and eco-physiology of aquatic organisms. A second, important department research focus is environmental microbiology.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is a separate, independent institution from the University of Alabama, which is located in Tuscaloosa. Please use University of Alabama at Birmingham on first reference and UAB on all consecutive references.

Andrew Hayenga | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uab.edu

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht Europe's microtechnology industry is attuned to growth
10.03.2017 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik

nachricht Preferential trade agreements enhance global trade at the expense of its resilience
17.02.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>