Does bursicon control exoskeletal mineralization in the post-ecdysial blue crab, Callinectes sapidus?
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Does bursicon control exoskeletal mineralization in the post-ecdysial blue crab, Callinectes sapidus?

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    In order for growth and development to occur, crustaceans must periodically shed their confining exoskeleton in a process called molting or ecdysis. The newly molted specimen is covered by a soft shell that must harden speedily. Shell-hardening in Crustacea consists of sclerotization and mineralization. While there is evidence that crustacean sclerotization is controlled by the neurohormone bursicon, it remains unknown as to which hormone regulates exoskeletal mineralization post-ecdysis. The blue crab bursicon or CasBurs is made up of α and β subunits (Chung et al., 2012). Templates for CasBurs α dsRNAs were generated based on cDNA sequences encoding these two subunits (EU67719, GenBank), and CasBurs dsRNA successfully synthesized. The synthesized dsRNA for CasBurs was injected to soft shell blue crabs 24 hours after molting to knock down the expression of bursicon gene through the RNAi mechanism. $ days later, the living specimens were sacrificed, and their carapace harvested and air dried before metal analysis took place. Analysis showed an average exoskeletal calcium level of 54.47 ± 42.89 mg Ca/g dry weight in the experimental group (N=2) and 99.63 ± 39.91 in the control group (N=3). Exoskeletal magnesium levels were 7.64 ± 3.26 mg Mg/g dry weight in the experimental group and 10.88 ± 5.28 mg Mg/ g dry weight in the control group. Average calcium and magnesium levels decreased 45.32 and 29.77 %, respectively. However, the results of the t-tests for calcium and magnesium were P= 0.31 and P=0.51, respectively. The results of this experiment indicate that possibility for bursicon to regulate the post-ecdysial mineralization in the blue crab. However, further experimentation needs to be performed with a larger sample size to provide a conclusive answer.
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