Friday, March 25, 2011

Fun things about crustaceans

One side effect of playing with ways to visualise and integrate biology databases is that you stumble across the weird and wonderful stuff that living organisms get up to. My earliest papers were on crustacean taxonomy, so I thought I'd try my latest toy on them.

What lives on crustaceans?

The "symbiome" graph for crustacea shows a range of associations, including marine bacteria (Vibrio), fungi (microsporidians), and other organisms, including other crustacea (crustaceans are at the top of the circle, I'll work on labelling these diagrams a little better).

CrusthostWhat do crustaceans live on?Crustpara

Crustacea (in addition to parasitising other crustacea) parasitise several vertebrates groups, including fish and whales. But they also occur in terrestrial vertebrates. For example, sequence EF583871 is from the pentastomid worm Porocephalus crotali from a dog. When people think of terrestrial crustacea they usually don't think of parasites. There's also a prominent line from crustaceans to what turns out to be corals, representing coral-living barnacles.

It's instructive to compare this with insects, which similarly parasitise vertebrates. The striking difference is the association between insects and flowering plants.


I guess these really need to be made interactive, so we could click on them and discover more about the association represented by each line in the diagram.