Size Differences in Freshwater Prawn Claws Found in Lake and River System

Jenn Hoskins
7th July, 2024

Size Differences in Freshwater Prawn Claws Found in Lake and River System

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study focused on freshwater prawns, Macrobrachium vollenhovenii, from Asejire Lake and Ogun River in Southwestern Nigeria
  • Researchers found significant size differences among prawn morphotypes, indicating genetic distinctions
  • Genetic analysis confirmed that different claw morphotypes are genetically distinct, crucial for sustainable aquaculture practices
Freshwater prawns, particularly the species Macrobrachium vollenhovenii, hold significant promise as biological agents against human schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease that affects millions worldwide. These prawns also offer a valuable protein source for riverine communities in West Africa. However, the development of aquaculture for M. vollenhovenii is complicated by the presence of various morphotypes, making precise identification and utilization challenging. A recent study conducted by the University of Ibadan aimed to address these challenges by investigating the maximum sizes and evolutionary links of different chelae (claw) morphotypes in M. vollenhovenii[1]. The study involved collecting ninety of the largest encountered samples of M. vollenhovenii from Asejire Lake and Ogun River during peak seasons (July–September). These samples were categorized into three chelae morphotypes: those with equal left and right chelae, longer left chelae, and shorter left chelae. The researchers analyzed these specimens for differences in size-linked parameters such as length, weight, and condition factor, and utilized 16S rRNA nucleotide sequences to infer phylogenetic linkages and identify genetic variations. The findings revealed significant differences in size-linked parameters among the chelae morphotypes, indicating that these physical differences are not merely superficial but have underlying genetic distinctions. This discovery is crucial for the precise identification and sustainable utilization of M. vollenhovenii in aquaculture. The study's phylogenetic analysis showed that the different chelae morphotypes of M. vollenhovenii are genetically distinct, which supports the need for careful classification in aquaculture practices. This genetic differentiation is essential for optimizing breeding programs and ensuring the sustainable use of this species as both a biological control agent and a food source. The research also ties into previous studies on the role of freshwater prawns in controlling snail populations, which are intermediate hosts for the schistosome parasites responsible for schistosomiasis. Earlier studies demonstrated that M. vollenhovenii is a voracious predator of schistosome-susceptible snails, even showing a preference for infected snails[2][3]. This predation behavior is beneficial for reducing the transmission of schistosomiasis, as it disrupts the life cycle of the parasite. Moreover, the study's findings on the genetic and morphological diversity within M. vollenhovenii echo similar challenges faced in the taxonomy of other aquatic species. For instance, research on the crayfish genus Cambarus highlighted the impact of convergent evolution on morphological features, complicating traditional taxonomic classifications[4]. Such insights underscore the importance of integrating genetic data with morphological observations to achieve accurate species identification and classification. In conclusion, the University of Ibadan's study on M. vollenhovenii provides vital information for the sustainable development of aquaculture for this species. By identifying the genetic and morphological distinctions among chelae morphotypes, the research paves the way for more effective utilization of M. vollenhovenii as a biological control agent against schistosomiasis and as a protein source for local communities. This study also highlights the broader implications of integrating genetic and morphological data in the taxonomy and sustainable management of aquatic species.

GeneticsAnimal ScienceMarine Biology


Main Study

1) Morphologic and phylogenetic investigations revealed size-divergent clades in chelae morphotypes of freshwater prawn Macrobrachium vollenhovenii Herklots (Decapoda: Palaemonidae) in a lake and river system of Southwest Nigeria

Published 6th July, 2024

Related Studies

2) Regulation of laboratory populations of snails (Biomphalaria and Bulinus spp.) by river prawns, Macrobrachium spp. (Decapoda, Palaemonidae): implications for control of schistosomiasis.

3) Infection with schistosome parasites in snails leads to increased predation by prawns: implications for human schistosomiasis control.

4) Testing phylogenetic hypotheses of the subgenera of the freshwater crayfish genus Cambarus (Decapoda: Cambaridae).

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