How Temperature Affects Crayfish Babies' Growth and Genes

Jim Crocker
29th April, 2024

How Temperature Affects Crayfish Babies' Growth and Genes

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In a Greek study, raising incubation temperature sped up hatching in narrow clawed crayfish embryos
  • Higher temperatures increased the expression of a growth-related gene in early-stage embryos
  • The temperature rise did not affect the gene linked to ion balance in embryos at any stage
The narrow clawed crayfish, Pontastacus (Astacus) leptodactylus, is a species of freshwater crayfish that has garnered attention due to its ecological significance and potential in aquaculture. However, unlike other crayfish species, the artificial breeding protocols for P. leptodactylus have not been well established, particularly in the area of egg incubation. This gap in knowledge poses a challenge for both the conservation of the species and its cultivation for economic purposes. A recent study conducted by the University of Western Macedonia[1] aimed to shed light on how temperature affects the embryonic development of P. leptodactylus. Specifically, the research investigated the impact of raising the incubation temperature from 17°C to 22°C during two different stages of embryonic development. This study is of particular relevance because temperature is a critical factor in the development and hatching of eggs in aquatic species, as evidenced by research on other species such as the Atlantic salmon[2] and the redclaw crayfish[3]. The team focused on the expression of two genes: the Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 4 (FGFR4) and the Na+/K+-ATPase α-subunit. FGFR4 is involved in cell growth and development, while Na+/K+-ATPase α-subunit plays a key role in maintaining the balance of sodium and potassium ions across cell membranes, which is vital for cell function. The study found that the expression levels of both FGFR4 and Na+/K+-ATPase α-subunit were higher in embryos that were closer to hatching. Interestingly, when the temperature was raised to 22°C for seven days, there was a significant increase in FGFR4 expression in embryos from earlier developmental stages. However, this temperature increase did not affect FGFR4 expression in eggs from later developmental stages, nor did it affect the expression of Na+/K+-ATPase α-subunit at any stage. These findings suggest that elevating the temperature could be a viable strategy to accelerate hatching, particularly in the early stages of embryo development. By understanding the relationship between temperature and gene expression, researchers can potentially develop effective artificial incubation protocols that could enhance the hatching rate and synchronization of P. leptodactylus eggs. The implications of this research extend beyond the narrow clawed crayfish. The study builds upon previous findings that invasive North American crayfish species, such as Procambarus clarkii and Pacifastacus leniusculus, have become reservoirs for crayfish plague, affecting native European species[4]. By improving artificial breeding techniques for native species like P. leptodactylus, it may be possible to bolster their populations and mitigate the negative impacts of invasive species and associated pathogens. Furthermore, the study's approach to characterizing gene expression in relation to temperature changes mirrors the aquaculture industry's interest in optimizing conditions for better growth and health of cultivated species, as demonstrated by the research on redclaw crayfish egg incubation[3] and the influence of temperature on muscle growth in Atlantic salmon[2]. Overall, the University of Western Macedonia's research contributes to a growing body of knowledge that is crucial for the conservation and aquaculture of freshwater crayfish. By investigating the genetic factors that influence embryonic development and how they respond to environmental conditions, such as temperature, scientists can devise more effective management strategies. These strategies not only support the sustainable production of crayfish but also contribute to the preservation of biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems.

GeneticsEcologyMarine Biology


Main Study

1) Influence of temperature on embryonic development of Pontastacus leptodactylus freshwater crayfish, and characterization of growth and osmoregulation related genes

Published 28th April, 2024

Related Studies

2) Larval programming of post-hatch muscle growth and activity in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).

Journal: The Journal of experimental biology, Issue: Vol 210, Issue Pt 10, May 2007

3) The exploration of artificial incubation of Cherax quadricarinatus eggs.

4) Mapping 15 years of crayfish plague in the Iberian Peninsula: The impact of two invasive species on the endangered native crayfish.

Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙