Wednesday, 14 February 2018

All-female mutant crayfish that clone themselves are taking over rivers and lakes around world

Invasive crustaceans reproduce without mating, and have spread from Germany to countries as diverse as Madagascar and Japan

Josh Gabbatiss Science Correspondent 

crayfish species that came into existence less than 25 years ago has spread around the world by cloning itself.

The entire global population of marbled crayfish has been traced to a single female held in a German aquarium, which was born with the ability to reproduce without having its eggs fertilised by males.

Every marbled crayfish is female, and every egg laid is an exact clone of its mother.

The ability to reproduce quickly and with such ease made the crustaceans popular in the aquarium trade, but when they found their way into the wild the crayfish got out of control.

“It was known that the crayfish can establish itself in the wild after releases from the aquarium,” said Dr Frank Lyko, a researcher at the German Cancer Research Centre who has sequenced the genome of the marbled crayfish to understand its abilities. “But the news was that it can spread so rapidly and massively.”

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