First Advisor

Luis Ruedas

Date of Award

Winter 3-1-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology and University Honors






Horseshoe Crab, Pharmaceutical Industry, Conservation


Horseshoe crabs are being used by the pharmaceutical industry to conduct endotoxin tests using LAL derived from the organism’s blood to ensure safe medical practice. Their annual collection and bleeding, while not always leading to mortality, affects horseshoe crab behavior and health. This research seeks to understand how the American horseshoe crab, L. polyphemus, is being used by pharmaceutical agencies and the implications that their harvesting has on the industry and the conservation of the species. Studies were collected from the past decade across two databases, Web of Science (WOS) and PubMed, to assess present conservation techniques to reduce the strain of pharmaceutical demand of LAL on the horseshoe crab, and also discuss the importance of this species conservation. After analyzing the information available, it is determined that rFC is a viable synthetic alternative to LAL, but that aquaculture methods are also highly promising. The study also determines that horseshoe crabs are an important part of the coastal ecosystem and that their demise would be felt by many associated species. This research hopes that US pharmaceutical companies will transition to alternate methods of LAL collection to reduce impacts on the horseshoe crab.

Persistent Identifier