Hemolymph levels of methyl farnesoate increase in response to osmotic stress in the green crab, Carcinus maenas

Donald L. Lovett, Michael P. Verzi, Patrick D. Clifford, David W. Borst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The salinity of estuarine environments can vary widely, exposing resident organisms to considerable osmotic stress. The green crab Carcinus maenas is well known for its ability to osmoregulate in response to such stress. Therefore, we tested the relationship between osmoregulation and hemolymph levels of methyl farnesoate (MF), a compound previously shown to rise in response to various types of environmental stresses. When crabs were transferred from 100% seawater to dilute (hypo-osmotic) seawater, hemolymph osmolality dropped rapidly, reaching an acclimation level 48 h after transfer. Hemolymph levels of MF also rose in these animals after a delay of 6 h, and reached a maximum level at 48 h. MF levels remained elevated as long as the crabs were maintained in dilute seawater, and quickly returned to basal levels when the animals were returned to full strength seawater. In most (but not all) animals, MF levels were elevated when hemolymph osmolality fell below the isosmotic point (approx. 800 mOsm/kg). These data suggest that MF may have a role in osmoregulation by this species. In addition, the elevation of MF by hypo-osmotic seawater suggests an experimental strategy for manipulating MF levels in crustaceans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-306
Number of pages8
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology


  • Carcinus maenas
  • Crustacea
  • Green crab
  • Hemolymph osmolality
  • Methyl farnesoate
  • Osmoregulation
  • Osmotic stress
  • Salinity


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