Genetic factors shaping salamander tails determine regeneration pace

July 3, 2013
This is a representative tail tip that was sampled during the process of regeneration. Credit: PLOS ONE 8(7): e67274. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067274

Salamanders' capacity to regrow lost limbs may seem infinite when compared with that of humans, but even amongst salamanders, some species regenerate body parts very slowly, while others lose this capacity as they age. Now, researchers have found that salamanders' capacity to regrow a cut tail depends on several small regions of DNA in their genome that impact how wide the tail grows.

The results are published July 3 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Randal Voss and colleagues from the University of Kentucky.

In the study, approximately 66-68% of the differences in regeneration among animals correlated with the width of their tails at the site of amputation. Molecular analysis revealed several that had small, additive effects on the width of the tail, and thus contributed to the animals' regenerative capacity. Voss adds, "Our results show that regenerative outgrowth is regulated locally by factors at the site of injury. Although we do not know the nature of these local factors yet, our findings suggest they are distributed quantitatively along the length of the tail."

Explore further: Regrowing lost limbs

More information: Voss GJ, Kump DK, Walker JA, Voss SR (2013) Variation in Salamander Tail Regeneration Is Associated with Genetic Factors That Determine Tail Morphology. PLOS ONE 8(7): e67274. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067274

Related Stories

Regrowing lost limbs

August 4, 2010

Another option may be on the horizon for patients who lose limbs due to war, accident, or disease. Instead of using artificial legs or arms, patients actually may regrow their own missing limbs. An article in the current ...

Recommended for you

Research reveals new clues about how humans become tool users

October 7, 2015

New research from the University of Georgia department of psychology gives researchers a unique glimpse at how humans develop an ability to use tools in childhood while nonhuman primates—such as capuchin monkeys and chimpanzees—remain ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.