Newswise — Scientists at the University of Kentucky have assembled the genome of the axolotl, a salamander whose only native habitat is a lake near Mexico City.
The implications of this announcement are threefold:
- The axolotl has been known to regrow their limbs, spinal cords, lenses -- even half their brains. A complete and detailed genomic map is the first step towards identifying the mechanisms by which these salamanders regenerate, with profound clinical applications down the road.
- The axolotl genome is 10X larger than the human genome, posing a significant computational burden. The researchers cleverly adapted a classical genetic approach called linkage mapping to assemble the billions of individual bits of data in their correct order quickly, creating a new "tool" for scientists to apply to other organisms with large genomes.
- By developing what is essentially a detailed biological instruction manual for the axolotl, the researchers have provided the scientific community a valuable biomedical model for the study of evolution and gene function.
The study, published in Genome Research, was co-authored by Jeramiah Smith, an associate professor in the Department of Biology, and Randal Voss, a professor in the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center at the University of Kentucky.
Downloadable interview footage of Smith and Voss can be found here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=19VovOVkTYZrqoVw-vl4bBy9tOUhZ6p7U
Photos and b-roll available upon request.
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