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Atergatis floridus

Floral egg crab, Shawl crab

Takuhiro Yamada (2014)



Fact Sheet



Physical Description


Life History & Behaviour

Anatomy & Physiology

Evolution & Systematics

Biogeographic Distribution

Conservation & Threats

References & Links

Anatomy & Physiology

The defining anatomical feature of Atergatis floridus is the presence of tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin common within the Crustacean family Xanthidae (Hayashi, Hammock and Hope, 2014). Many previous studies have researched the presence and effects of the toxin in A. floridus, and warn that the species is not for human consumption. Tetrodotoxin is a type of toxin found in some echinoids, other Xanthidae crabs, and the pufferfish (NOGUCHI et al.,1986).

The toxins in the crab, A. floridus, recorded human fatalities in the past, and a study showed that there are possibilities of understanding its properties and pharmacological uses through comparisons with the well-known toxin from Zosimua aeneua called saxitoxin (Endean et al., 1983). Another study has shown that there are different quantities or concentrations of the toxins in different parts of the specimen body (Hashimoto et al., 1967). It seems as though there are little to no toxins present in the muscles in the cephalothorax region, whereas it was found that the muscles in the appendages, exclusively the chelipeds, had the most concentration of tetrodotoxin (Saito et al., 2006).

It has been unknown where the toxins originate, although previous studies have shown that symbiotic bacteria may be the producer. A report analyses different bacteria strains gathered from the salivary glands of the tetrodotoxin producing Blue-ringed Octopus maculosus, and found that the strains of Bacillus and Pseudomonas showed signs of the toxin, which suggests that the bacteria may be producing the toxins (Hwang et al.,1989).