Why Study Horseshoe Crabs?

The blue copper-based blood of a horsehoe crab contains large blood cells called amoebocytes, from which a clotting agent called amoebocyte lysate is derived (Gerhart 2007). This is commonly used by biomedical companies and hospitals to detect the presence of bacteria in vaccines, drugs, and medical equipment (Li et al. 2015). Along with the loss of coastal habitats and coastal pollution, overharvesting for the production of Tachypleus amebocyte lysate (TAL) resulted in a decrease in the population of tri-spine horseshoe crab in Southeast Asia (Hu et al. 2009; Li et al. 2015).