Coordination of Reproduction and Molt in Decapods
The molt cycle is a constitutive phenomenon in crustaceans, with molting being a complex and energy-demanding process. Reproduction and metabolism in crustaceans depend on the molt stage, and all three phenomena–molt, reproduction and metabolism–are correlated with the seasons. A large number of studies describe reproduction in decapod crustaceans, but only a few studies relate reproduction to the molt cycle. The reproductive cycle is regulated by internal cues that are related to the physiological nature of a species and by external cues related to the environment. Studies on the expression patterns of the neuropeptides controlling the physiological programming along the molt cycle have been performed for a number of species but have not yielded decisive results that could be applied to decapods in general. A reproductive molt cycle can be followed by a non-reproductive molt cycle, meaning that after releasing the larvae the female with immature ovaries undergoes a regular molt.