JERUSALEM — Israeli researchers have produced female monosex crayfish for biological pest control, without their environmentally harmful reproduction, the Ben-Gurion University (BGU) reported on Tuesday.
Freshwater crayfish are used as biological eliminators of snails that host parasites, the causes of the infectious disease bilharzia.
The problem of this pest control method is the takeover of the exterminating species in the environment, turning into an invasive species.
In the new study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers at BGU’s National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev, produced “super female” crayfish with two female sex chromosomes, lacking the masculine Z chromosome.
The researchers were able to grow the special crayfish population without the use of hormones or genetic changes, thus addressing agricultural and ecological considerations.
In efficiency tests at the BGU labs, the super female crayfish eliminated snails with great speed without environmentally harmful reproduction.
The female crayfish was developed together with researchers from Enzootic, a start-up company that specializes in biotechnologies in female crayfish.
The BGU researchers are currently developing a solution for a fishery in northeastern Israel, which is facing fish parasite contamination sourced from snails.