Suitability of the clonal marbled crayfish for biogerontological research: a review and perspective, with remarks on some further crustaceans
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This article examines the suitability of the parthenogenetic marbled crayfish for research on ageing and longevity. The marbled crayfish is an emerging laboratory model for development, epigenetics and toxicology that produces up to 400 genetically identical siblings per batch. It is easily cultured, has an adult size of 4–9 cm, a generation time of 6–7 months and a life span of 2–3 years. Experimental data and biological peculiarities like isogenicity, direct development, indeterminate growth, high regeneration capacity and negligible senescence suggest that the marbled crayfish is particularly suitable to investigate the dependency of ageing and longevity from non-genetic factors such as stochastic developmental variation, allocation of metabolic resources, damage and repair, caloric restriction and social stress. It is also well applicable to examine alterations of the epigenetic code with increasing age and to identify mechanisms that keep stem cells active until old age. As a representative of the sparsely investigated crustaceans and of animals with indeterminate growth and extended brood care the marbled crayfish may even contribute to evolutionary theories of ageing and longevity. Some relatives are recommended as substitutes for investigation of topics, for which the marbled crayfish is less suitable like genetics of ageing and achievement of life spans of decades under conditions of low food and low temperature. Research on ageing in the marbled crayfish and its relatives is of practical relevance for crustacean fisheries and aquaculture and may offer starting points for the development of novel anti-ageing interventions in humans.