Darkness sheds light on krill reproduction

Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba)
Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) (Photo: Stephen Brookes)

Research at the Australian Antarctic Division's krill aquarium has shown that the annual cycle of krill maturation and reproduction can be altered by a period of darkness immediately after spawning.

'We've been able to reset the animals' internal clocks, so that they become sexually mature three months earlier than if they were exposed to a natural Antarctic light cycle,' principal researcher, Dr So Kawaguchi says.

The research promises to allow scientists to control when different groups of krill spawn, so that they have access to all phases of the life cycle (larvae, juveniles, sub-adults and adults) all year round. It will also spread the effort of collecting millions of krill eggs for the breeding program, over the year, rather than all at once.