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For All the Blue Crabs in Maryland

Researchers in Maryland have sequenced the genome of the blue crab, according to the Baltimore Sun. It adds that the blue crab genome could help researchers better understand diseases affecting crabs as well as uncover how to breed meatier crabs.

The University of Maryland's Sook Chung combined long Pacific Biosciences reads with short Illumina reads to piece together the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, genome. She and her team reported in G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics that they generated 50 chromosome-scale scaffolds and predicted 25,249 protein-coding genes.

"Marylanders love crabs, and everybody wants to have big, fat crabs in the fall. Understanding what makes them successful is located in the chromosomes," Chung tells CBS Baltimore. "Knowing the full genome, we are several steps closer to identifying the genes responsible for growth, reproduction, and susceptibility to disease."

Chung further tells the Sun that they have already homed in on the gene encoding the molting hormone. That, she says, could help improve blue crab farming by getting crabs to all molt at the same time and pose less of a danger to one another at that vulnerable time.

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