Full Text Available Crustaceans have to cyclically replace their rigid exoskeleton in order to grow. Most of them harden this skeleton by a calcification process. Some decapods (land crabs, lobsters and crayfish elaborate calcium storage structures as a reservoir of calcium ions in their stomach wall, as so-called gastroliths. For a better understanding of the cyclic elaboration of these calcium deposits, we studied the ultrastructure of gastroliths from freshwater crayfish by using a combination of microscopic and physical techniques. Because sugars are also molecules putatively involved in the elaboration process of these biomineralizations, we also determined their carbohydrate composition. This study was performed in a comparative perspective on crayfish species belonging to the infra-order Astacidea (Decapoda, Malacostraca: three species from the Astacoidea superfamily and one species from the Parastacoidea superfamily. We observed that all the gastroliths exhibit a similar dense network of protein-chitin fibers, from macro- to nanoscale, within which calcium is precipitated as amorphous calcium carbonate. Nevertheless, they are not very similar at the molecular level, notably as regards their carbohydrate composition. Besides glucosamine, the basic carbohydrate component of chitin, we evidenced the presence of other sugars, some of which are species-specific like rhamnose and galacturonic acid whereas xylose and mannose could be linked to proteoglycan components.
This chapter presents and explains the position of Nephrops norvegicus in the classification of lobsters. Covered, in order, are systematic classification of Nephrops, taxonomic history of Nephrops, and analysis of Nephrops in nephropid phylogeny. The genus Nephrops was erected by Leach in 1814 and has a long and interesting taxonomic history. Prior to 1972, Nephrops was known by 14 Recent species. All but one of these, N. norvegicus, were removed to a new genus, Metanephrops, by Jenkins (1972). Today, N. norvegicus is still the only known living representative of the genus. Similarly, Nephrops is known by only one fossil species, the Miocene Nephrops kvistgaardae, although several other fossil species have been previously referred to this genus. Nephrops, along with the other familiar and commercially important marine clawed lobsters, is referred to Family Nephropidae, one of 17 marine clawed lobster families arrayed in 3 infraorders, 6 families each in the Astacidea and Glypheidea and 5 in the Polychelida. Infraorder Astacidea includes the Superfamily Nephropoidea, as well as the lesser known 'reef lobsters' of the Superfamily Enoplometopoidea, and the freshwater crayfish, Superfamily Astacoidea. In phylogenetic analyses, the freshwater crayfish form a sister group to the Nephropoidea. It is interpreted that freshwater crayfish evolved from nephropoid lobsters, but from which lobster group is uncertain. The taxonomic placement of N. norvegicus is stable at all levels, from species on up. Despite that, the phylogenetic relationships of Nephrops to other nephropid genera are unsettled due to conflicting results in morphological and molecular analyses. Currently, new morphological characters and new genes are being analysed in the hope of elucidating nephropid phylogeny. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.