From the discovery of the crustacean androgenic gland to the insulin-like hormone in six decades Academic Article uri icon


  • Over the past six decades, a unique crustacean endocrine organ, the androgenic gland (AG), has occupied the minds of groups researching Crustacea the world over. Unlike male sexual differentiation and maintenance of sexual characteristics in other arthropods, in crustaceans these processes are regulated by the unique male AG. Crustaceans present a particular case in which the gametogenic organ (testis) is clearly separated from the organ regulating sex differentiation (the AG), enabling endocrine manipulations. The AG was first discovered in a decapod species and later investigated in detail not only in decapods but also in amphipods and isopods. The key role of the AG in regulating sex differentiation was subsequently validated in a number of representative species of a wide array of Malacostraca. It was in an isopod species that the AG hormone was first discovered. Later, orthologous genes were found in isopods and decapods, with all these genes sharing the key features of the insulin-like superfamily of peptides. This review unfolds the story of the AG and AG-specific insulin-like factors (IAGs) from a historical perspective, highlighting the main achievements in the field and giving a glimpse of future challenges to be addressed.

publication date

  • January 1, 2011