Thursday, January 31, 2019

Axolotl Regeneration and Mapping Their DNA

Axolotl are small amphibians from Mexico who have extraordinary regenerative abilities. These creatures are able to regrow just about any body part, even up to half of the brain. Aside from cutting off the head, an exact replica of anything else will be regrown. Scientists around the world are attempting to completely map the DNA of this organism in hopes to provide advances in human regenerative medicine. Dr. Melissa Keinath describes that the axolotl genome is ten times larger than that of the human genome. The New York Times reports that "Dr. Keinath and her colleagues mapped more than 100,000 pieces of DNA onto chromosomes". Because DNA sequences that are physically close together on chromosomes are commonly inherited together, the researchers could use linkage mapping to organize the axolotl DNA. Additionally, the scientists were able to identify DNA exclusive to axolotl by crossing them with tiger salamanders. Knowing how DNA is positioned "allows you to start thinking about functions and how genes are related," scientist Dr. Voss explains. After understanding the relationships between the DNA position and gene function in the axolotl, scientists can observe whether the same relationships are seen in humans. 

The research on axolotl is interesting because if we can understand the genes and their functions behind axolotl regeneration, maybe a similar technique can be applied to human medicine. Studying the axolotl DNA may also reveal more about epigenetics and if deactivating certain genes results in excellent regenerative abilities. Furthermore, the physical location of where DNA is located and how it affects the genes can be analogous to humans. 


  1. As someone who is interested in the medical field, I found this blog post to be extremely interesting. If scientists can fully map out the DNA of this organism and understand its regenerative abilities, that information can greatly benefit our medical field. Research can target ways to treat injuries and diseases that have remained untreatable, which is major.

  2. In my opinion, any species that can regenerate is really awesome. I wonder what kind of medical implication this could have in terms of human usage? Is regeneration of human limbs even a possibility considering they are more complex than that of the axolotl? Maybe the answer isn't in just the limbs but just in the fact that the cells are able to replicate. I wonder if this could work to possibly regenerate organ cells for patients who may need transplants or even to regenerate cardiac cells after a cardiac episode?