Can you feminise a crustacean?

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The ability of anthropogenic chemicals to cause reproductive disorders has been the focus of toxicologists for many years. Whilst the focus of endocrine disrupting chemicals has mainly been associated with vertebrate groups, there have been continued calls for more research on the invertebrates. Surprisingly, within the Crustacea, many studies have focussed on female or growth/moulting related endpoints despite many of the vertebrate studies highlighting male related effects such as abnormal male reproductive development. Furthermore, a large number of the invertebrate studies have focussed on vertebrate estrogens or their mimics. Considering the biology of the crustacean endocrine systems, this paper shall argue that unlike the vertebrates, it is a lot more difficult to feminise a crustacean than it is to de-masculinise one. Consequently, crustacean toxicologists, by following the tact of vertebrate biologists, may have been trying to address the right questions, but in the wrong way. Studies have shown that intersexuality, in crustaceans may arise through the masculinisation of heterogametic (WZ) females or the de-masculinisation of males through aberrations in male androgenic gland activity. It is recommended that the focus be put on understanding the mechanisms of sex determination in Crustacea, and the expression of male secondary sexual characteristics at the molecular, biochemical and physiological level are fully explored so that appropriate assessments can be made as to whether sexual endocrine disruption is occurring in this ecologically important group. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-321
Number of pages6
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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