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Aquatic Toxins Impact Molting in Blue Crabs

Blue crabs are an important part of Louisiana's economy. Maintaining healthy populations requires a better understanding of how aquatic contaminants impact blue crab growth and molting.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame retardants commonly found in surface water that disrupt endocrine system signalling in mammals and birds. However, little research has focused on their effects in crustaceans despite the prevalence of these chemicals in aquatic systems. Any changes in the ability of crustaceans to molt influence growth rates, reproduction, and population numbers.

This study examined how PBDEs 28 and 47 affect molting hormone signalling in the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus. We developed an in vitro tissue culture technique called the Epidermis-with-Exoskeleton (EWE) method that allowed us to evaluate gene expression in live epidermal cells and illuminate a mechanism for molt disruption in the blue crab.

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