Cause of Blue Crab Decline is Sought

blue crab

CHARLESTON, S.C., Jan. 28 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’re seeking the cause of a recent decline in the Atlantic blue crab population.

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the College of Charleston, S.C., said the blue crab population has been declining in recent years under the assault of viruses, bacteria and man-made contaminants. But the signs of the attacks often are subtle, so the researchers now are trying to find clues that will identify the specific, yet elusive, cause.

The NIST/CofC research team says it’s using a technology similar to magnetic resonance imaging to identify and quantify metabolites — small chemical compounds created during metabolism — that increase under conditions that are stressful to blue crabs. The scientists said such metabolites could be used as biomarkers to identify the specific source of the stress.

The research, supported in part by the National Science Foundation, appears in the Jan. 20 online edition of the journal Metabolomics.

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