blue crab exoskeleton

Shannon Modla
DBI BioImaging Center – Staff
Transmission Electron Microscopy

The blue crab exoskeleton is a complicated network of chitin-protein fibers (colorized pink in the micrograph) that form parallel arrays that successively rotate in each adjacent layer, creating a twisting helical structure. Soon after the crab molts, the soft exoskeleton is impregnated with calcium phosphate to further harden and stabilize the structure. The ions and other components required for this mineralization are thought to be delivered by tubular cystoplasmic extension from the underlying layer of cells directly below the exoskeleton. These cytoplasmic extensions are called the pore canals and are colorized blue in the micrograph. Understanding how mineralization is regulated in the blue crab exoskeleton can help us to understand similar processes that occur in bone.


Posted on

January 9, 2019