Sequencing the genome of salamanders

August 20, 2014 by Keith Hautala, University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky biologist Randal Voss is sequencing the genome of salamanders. Though we share many of the same genes, the salamander genome is massive compared to our own, about 10 times as large.

Voss's research focuses on axolotls, with amazing regenerative ability.

"It's hard to find a body part they can't regenerate: the limbs, the tail, the , the eye, and in some species, the lens, half of their brain has been shown to regenerate," Voss said. "I'm very fortunate to have a colleague in the department, Jeramiah Smith, who's an expert at the ability to put small pieces of DNA together to kind of recreate the puzzle, which is the genome. We have funding from the National Institute of Health and the Department of Defense to sequence the axolotl genome and provide this blueprint for the first time."

With a partner at the University of Dayton, Voss is looking at the loss of regenerative ability in the eye as a salamander ages.

"Early on in life, axolotls can regenerate their lens. But at some point in time, around 28 days after they hatch, that plasticity goes away and they can't regenerate the lens," Voss said. "So, I've been working with that group trying to identify the genes that might explain that."

Voss is also starting a new collaboration with an orthopedic surgeon at UK to study knee joint regeneration.

Credit: Video by UK Research Media

"Over the course of say 10 to 15 days, the salamander will successfully regenerate a complete joint. That blows the 's mind because that would be the Holy Grail in their field to understand how to orchestrate joint regeneration in a human."

Explore further: Researchers cohere research cluster focusing on genetic mechanisms underscoring regeneration

Related Stories

Different cellular mechanisms behind regenerated body parts

November 21, 2013

Scientists at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered that two separate species of salamander differ in the way their muscles grow back in lost body parts. Their findings on the species-specific solutions, published ...

Recommended for you

Breakthrough study shows how plants sense the world

January 19, 2018

Plants lack eyes and ears, but they can still see, hear, smell and respond to environmental cues and dangers—especially to virulent pathogens. They do this with the aid of hundreds of membrane proteins that can sense microbes ...

Microbial communities demonstrate high turnover

January 19, 2018

When Mark Twain famously said "If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes," he probably didn't anticipate MIT researchers would apply his remark to their microbial research. But a new study does ...

Hot weather is bad news for bird sperm

January 19, 2018

A new study led by Macquarie University and spanning Sydney and Oslo has shown that exposure to extreme temperatures, such as those experienced during heatwave conditions, significantly reduces sperm quality in zebra finches, ...

0 comments

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.