The insulin-like androgenic gland hormone in crustaceans: From a single gene silencing to a wide array of sexual manipulation-based biotechnologies

Tomer Ventura, Amir Sagi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Due to the over-harvesting and deterioration of wild populations, the ever-growing crustacean market is increasingly reliant on aquaculture, driving the need for better management techniques. Since most cultured crustacean species exhibit sexually dimorphic growth patterns, the culture of monosex populations (either all-male or all-female) is a preferred approach for gaining higher yields, with the ecological benefit of reducing the risk of invasion by the cultured species. Sexual manipulations may also render sustainable solutions to the environmental problems caused by the presence of invasive crustacean species with detrimental impacts ranging from aggressive competition with native species for food and shelter, to affecting aquaculture facilities and harvests and causing structural damage to river banks. Recent discoveries of androgenic gland (AG)-specific insulin-like peptides (IAGs) in crustaceans and the ability to manipulate them and their encoding transcripts (IAGs) have raised the possibility of sexually manipulating crustacean populations. Sexual manipulation is already a part of sustainable solutions in fish aquaculture and in the bio-control of insect pest species, and attempts are also being made to implement it with crustaceans. As recently exemplified in a commercially important prawn species, IAG silencing, a temporal, non-genetically modifying and non-transmissible intervention, has enabled the production of non-breeding all-male monosex populations that are the progeny of sexually reversed males ('neo-females'). IAG manipulations-based biotechnologies therefore have the potential to radically transform the entire industry. We review here how this proof of concept could be broadened to meet both aquacultural and environmental needs. We include the major cultured decapod crustacean groups and suggest a sustainable solution for the management of invasive and pest crustacean species. We also review the key considerations for devising a biotechnological approach that specifically tailors the molecular technological abilities to the management of each target group.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1543-1550
Number of pages8
JournalBiotechnology Advances
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2012


  • Crab
  • Crayfish
  • Insulin-like androgenic gland hormone
  • Invasive species
  • Lobster
  • Monosex culture
  • Prawn
  • RNA interference
  • Sex reversal
  • Shrimp

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biotechnology


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