A molecular approach to understanding metamorphosis in spiny lobsters
Hyde, CJ and Fitzgibbon, Q and Elizur, A and Smith, GG and Ventura, T, A molecular approach to understanding metamorphosis in spiny lobsters, 11th international Conference and Workshop on Lobster Biology and Management, 04-09 June, Portland, Maine, USA (2017) [Conference Extract]
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The potential for spiny lobsters as aquaculture species has attracted significant research attention over the past decade, but the industry continues to be hindered by the lobsterís complex lifecycle and unknown biological requirements. In the larvae, metamorphosis from the phyllosoma to the puerulus has been a particular stumbling block of industry development and, although the lifecycle has been closed with great efficacy in land-based culture systems, this critical life-stage remains problematic. In an attempt to introduce new perspective to this issue, we present a research project that aims to unveil the intricate mechanisms behind this metamorphosis using molecular methods with a bifocal approach. To establish a basis for current hypotheses, and for testing new ones, we plan to utilize in vivo experiments on cultured larvae approaching metamorphosis. Key metabolites, particularly those already associated with metamorphosis, will be administered to the larvae with the aim of revealing their role in the process. In parallel to this, we are analysing a comprehensive transcriptome from larvae undergoing metamorphosis. Genes of interest will be further examined for function with appropriate in vitro assays; for this purpose we are currently designing a receptor assay to examine the interactions between key nuclear receptors, which present themselves as likely candidates for regulatory components. By building up an understanding of the machinery controlling metamorphosis in the larvae, we aim to utilize the culture systems to test novel hypotheses with the ultimate goal of inducing and controlling metamorphosis. If such a hypothesis can be confirmed, then manipulation of larval development via feed or water may constitute a feasible method of managing this precarious life stage at a commercial scale. In a broader context, the outcomes of this project will both complement and challenge conventional knowledge around metamorphosis in crustaceans.