Marmorkrebs are cloning crayfish

“Marmorkrebs” is an informal name given to marbled crayfish that were discovered by hobbyists in Germany in the late 1990s. “Marmorkrebs” roughly translates from German as “marbled crab.” The scientific name for Marmorkrebs is Procambarus virginalis (previously Procambarus fallax f. virginalis). They are an asexual relative of slough crayfish (Procambarus fallax) that live across Florida and southern Georgia in the United States. The only known cases of Marmorkrebs in the wild are where they have been introduced by humans.

Marmorkrebs are parthenogenetic: they are all females, and reproduce without sex. This is the only decapod crustacean found that reproduces only this way, giving it incredible potential as a model organism for research. Some of the advantages of Marmorkrebs are that they are genetically identical, reproduce at high rates, and are easy to care for.

Marmorkrebs are invasive

Marmorkrebs have been introduced in many countries, and have established populations in some. They can damage agriculture and threaten native species. Marmorkrebs should not be used for bait (see here), kept in outdoor tanks or ponds (Marmorkrebs can migrate over land; see here), or placed in any other situation where they could be released into natural ecosystems.

The European Union banned possession, trade, transport, production, and release of Marmorkrebs (and several other crayfish species) in 2016. The United Kingdom retained this prohibition after its departure from the European Union in 2020.

Japan banned breeding and selling Marmorkrebs (and several other crayfish species) in 2020.

In North America, Marmorkrebs are prohibited in:

In 2022, one person in the US was prosecuted for selling Marmorkrebs and plead guilty.

Marmorkrebs blog

News and commentary here. Featured in The Open Lab 2008 anthology.


Portal for the Marmorkrebs genome is here.

Recent research papers


Brown NEM, Therriault TW. The hidden risk of keystone invaders in Canada: a case study using non-indigenous crayfish. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences: in press.

2022 research papers

Bohman P, Edsman L, Mrugała A. 2022. Is this a Swedish signal crayfish or an alien marbled crayfish? Crayfish News 44(1): 1, 3-6.

Kaliszewicz A, Karaban K, Sierakowski M, Maciaszek R, Kur M, Pyffel Z, Wolny L, Chmiel K, Łuciuk P, Rusin P, Kowalczyk K. 2022. Effect of dietary supplementation with fatty acids on growth, survival, and fatty acid patterns in Procambarus clarkii and Procambarus virginalis: the first comparison of two invasive crayfish species. The European Zoological Journal 89(1): 123-134.

🔓 Marn N, Hudina S, Haberle I, Dobrović A, Klanjšček T. 2022. Physiological performance of native and invasive crayfish species in a changing environment: insights from Dynamic Energy Budget models. Conservation Physiology 10(1): coac031.

Sentis A, Veselý L, Let M, Musil M, Malinovska V, Kouba A. 2022. Short-term thermal acclimation modulates predator functional response. Ecology and Evolution 12(2): e8631.

🆕 🔓 Tresnakova N, Kubec J, Stara A, Zuskova E, Faggio C, Kouba A, Velisek J. 2022. Chronic toxicity of primary metabolites of chloroacetamide and glyphosate to early life stages of marbled crayfish Procambarus virginalis. Biology 11: 927.

Vogt G. 2022. Studying phenotypic variation and DNA methylation across development, ecology and evolution in the clonal marbled crayfish: a paradigm for investigating epigenotype-phenotype relationships in macro-invertebrates. The Science of Nature 109(1): 16.

2021 research papers

Brenneis G, Schwentner M, Giribet G, Beltz BS. Insights into the genetic regulatory network underlying neurogenesis in the parthenogenetic marbled crayfish Procambarus virginalis. Developmental Neurobiology 81(8): 939-974.

Chucholl F, Chucholl C. Differences in the functional responses of four invasive and one native crayfish species suggest invader-specific ecological impacts. Freshwater Biology 66(11): 2051-2063.

DeMaegd ML. 2021. Physiological consequences of neuromodulation and the cellular properties that underlie them. Dissertation for Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), School of Biological Sciences, Illinois State University.

Francesconi C, Makkonen J, Schrimpf A, Jussila J, Kokko H, Theissinger K. 2021. Controlled infection experiment with Aphanomyces astaci provides additional evidence for latent infections and resistance in freshwater crayfish. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 9: 647037.

Grandjean F, Collas M, Uriarte M, Rousset M. 2021. First record of a marbled crayfish Procambarus virginalis (Lyko, 2017) population in France. BioInvasions Records 10(2): 341-347.

Gutekunst J, Maiakovska O, Hanna K, Provataris P, Horn H, Wolf S, Skelton CE, Dorn NJ, Lyko F. 2021. Phylogeographic reconstruction of the marbled crayfish origin. Communications Biology 4(1): 1096.

Hossain MS, Kubec J, Guo W, Roje S, Ložek F, Grabicová K, Randák T, Kouba A, Buric M. 2021. A combination of six psychoactive pharmaceuticals at environmental concentrations alter the locomotory behavior of clonal marbled crayfish. Science of The Total Environment 751: 141383.

Kouba A, Lipták B, Kubec J, Bláha M, Veselý L, Haubrock PJ, Oficialdegui FJ, Niksirat H, Patoka J, Buric M. 2021. Survival, growth, and reproduction: Comparison of marbled crayfish with four prominent crayfish invaders. Biology 10(5): 422.

Lemmers P, Frank Spikmans F, Koese B. 2021. Is de opmars van de marmerkreeft in Nederland nog te stuiten? (The expansion of the marbled crayfish in the Netherlands.) De Levende Natuur 122(4): 138-140.

Maiakovska O, Andriantsoa R, Tönges S, Legrand C, Gutekunst J, Hanna K, Pârvulescu L, Novitsky R, Weiperth A, Sciberras A, Deidun A, Ercoli F, Kouba A, Lyko F. 2021. Genome analysis of the monoclonal marbled crayfish reveals genetic separation over a short evolutionary timescale. Communications Biology 4(1): 74.

Muuga J-M. 2021. Effects of temperature on marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis, Lyko 2017) invasion ecology. Master’s thesis, Hydrobiology and Fishery, Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Estonian University of Life Sciences.

Okada S, Hirano N, Abe T, Nagayama T. 2021. Aversive operant conditioning alters the phototactic orientation of the marbled crayfish. The Journal of Experimental Biology 224(6): jeb242180.

Roje S, Richter L, Worischka S, Let M, Veselý L, Buric M. 2021. Round goby versus marbled crayfish: Alien invasive predators and competitors. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems 422: 18.

Sanna D, Azzena I, Scarpa F, Cossu P, Pira A, Gagliardi F, Casu M. 2021. First record of the alien species Procambarus virginalis Lyko, 2017 in fresh waters of Sardinia and insight into its genetic variability. Life 11(7): 606.

Scheers K, Brys R, Abeel T, Halfmaerten D, Neyrinck S, Adriaens T. 2021. The invasive parthenogenetic marbled crayfish Procambarus virginalis Lyko, 2017 gets foothold in Belgium. BioInvasions Records 10(2): 326-340.

Scholz S, Göpel T, Richter S, Wirkner CS. 2021. High degree of non-genetic phenotypic variation in the vascular system of crayfish: a discussion of possible causes and implications. Zoomorphology 140(3): 317-329.

Stara A, Zuskova E, Vesely L, Kouba A, Velisek J. 2021. Single and combined effects of thiacloprid concentration, exposure duration, and water temperature on marbled crayfish Procambarus virginalis. Chemosphere 273: 128463.

Tönges S, Masagounder K, Lenich F, Gutekunst J, Tönges M, Lohbeck J, Miller AK, Böhl F, Lyko F. 2021. Evaluating invasive marbled crayfish as a potential livestock for sustainable aquaculture. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 9: 651981.

van Kuijk T, Biesmeijer JC, van der Hoorn BB, Verdonschot PFM. 2021. Functional traits explain crayfish invasive success in the Netherlands. Scientific Reports 11(1): 2772.

Veselý L, Ruokonen TJ, Weiperth A, Kubec J, Szajbert B, Guo W, Ercoli F, Bláha M, Buric M, Hämäläinen H, Kouba A. 2021. Trophic niches of three sympatric invasive crayfish of EU concern. Hydrobiologia 848(3): 727–737.

Vogt G. 2021. Evaluation of the suitability of the parthenogenetic marbled crayfish for aquaculture: potential benefits versus conservation concerns. Hydrobiologia 848: 285–298.