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Shellfish Assessment Program - Survey & Assessment: Past Research

Development of a qPCR Assay for Detection of Planktonic RKC Larvae

Photo of a red king crab zoea. Click image to enlarge.
Red king crab zoea. Photo by Greg Jensen. Click image to enlarge.

Knowledge of larval biology is critical to understanding the dispersal capabilities and recruitment potential of crab populations. Larval crab distribution is temporally and spatially patchy, requiring extensive sampling efforts to locate and track.

Large-scale plankton surveys are generally cost-prohibitive due to the effort required for collection and the time and taxonomic expertise required for sorting and individually identifying plankton via microscopy.

We developed a DNA-based quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay for simultaneous red king crab larvae detection and enumeration in plankton samples. The assay is used to screen plankton samples for larvae and provides an estimate of the number of larvae present without visually sorting the plankton sample in a fraction of the time required for microscopy-based methods.

If larval stage information is desired, only those samples identified as containing larvae need be visually examined. This assay adds a quick and reliable tool to stock assessment methodologies used in understanding life history and population processes necessary for effective recovery and management plans.

The Alaskan red king crab fishery, currently depressed, but once one of the most economically important single-species fisheries in the world, would benefit from improved stock assessment capabilities.

Shellfish Assessment Program - Survey & Assessment CURRENT RESEARCH

Related Publications

  • JENSEN, P. C., M. K. PURCELL, J. F. MORADO, and G. L. ECKERT. 2012. Development of a real-time PCR assay for detection of planktonic red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus (Tilesius 1815)) larvae. Journal of Shellfish Research 31:917-924.

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