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Title: Combining Old and New Tricks: The Study of Genes, Neurons, and Behavior in Crayfish
For over a century the nervous system of decapod crustaceans has been a workhorse for the neurobiology community. Many fundamental discoveries including the identification of electrical and inhibitory synapses, lateral and pre-synaptic inhibition, and the Na + /K + -pump were made using lobsters, crabs, or crayfish. Key among many advantages of crustaceans for neurobiological research is the unique access to large, accessible, and identifiable neurons, and the many distinct and complex behaviors that can be observed in lab settings. Despite these advantages, recent decades have seen work on crustaceans hindered by the lack of molecular and genetic tools required for unveiling the cellular processes contributing to neurophysiology and behavior. In this perspective paper, we argue that the recently sequenced marbled crayfish, Procambarus virginalis , is suited to become a genetic model system for crustacean neuroscience. P. virginalis are parthenogenetic and produce genetically identical offspring, suggesting that germline transformation creates transgenic animal strains that are easy to maintain across generations. Like other decapod crustaceans, marbled crayfish possess large neurons in well-studied circuits such as the giant tail flip neurons and central pattern generating neurons in the stomatogastric ganglion. We provide initial data demonstrating that marbled crayfish neurons are accessible through more » standard physiological and molecular techniques, including single-cell electrophysiology, gene expression measurements, and RNA-interference. We discuss progress in CRISPR-mediated manipulations of the germline to knock-out target genes using the ‘Receptor-mediated ovary transduction of cargo’ (ReMOT) method. Finally, we consider the impact these approaches will have for neurophysiology research in decapod crustaceans and more broadly across invertebrates. « less
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Frontiers in Physiology
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National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

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