Nutrition & Health

THESIS: Digestive profile and capacity of the mud crab (Scylla serrate). By Marko Pavasovic, Queensland University of Technology


Commercial farming of mud crab Scylla serrata is a significant industry throughout South East Asia. The limited scientific knowledge of mud crab nutritional requirements and digestive processes, however, is recognised as a major constraint to the future growth of this industry. To better understand the mechanisms of digestion in the mud crab we have analysed the diversity of digestive enzymes from the hepatopancreas. Significant protease, amylase, cellulase and xylanase activities were detected in soluble extracts from this organ.

Temperature profiles for all enzymes were basically similar with optimal activities observed at 500C. Examination of pH tolerance revealed optimal activities for protease and amylase at pH 7.0 while optimal activities for cellulase and xylanase were observed at pH 5.5. Under optimum conditions, protease and amylase activities were approximately two orders of magnitude greater than those seen for either cellulase or xylanase. Interestingly, hepatopancreatic extracts were able to liberate glucose from either starch or carboxymethyl (CM)-cellulose suggesting that a range of carbohydrates may be utilised as energy sources. The effects of dietary carbohydrates on feed digestibility, digestive enzyme levels and growth were also studied by inclusion of additional starch or CM-cellulose at the expense of casein in formulated diets. It was shown that amylase, cellulase and xylanase activities in extracts from the hepatopancreas were highest in mud crabs fed diets containing 47% carbohydrate. Based on the findings, we suggest that the ability of the mud crab to modulate digestive enzyme activities may represent a mechanism to maximise access to essential nutrients when the dietary profile changes. 



Mud crab, Scylla serrata, feed digestibility, formulated diets



Marko Pavasovic    



Thesis submitted for the degree of Master of Applied Science at The Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, 2004).  

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