Axolotls in a lab: Just company or something more?

Until recently, we firmly assumed that the axolotls Morpheus and Twelve, residing in the watery vivarium here in BioArt Laboratories, were both males. However, on a Monday not long ago, we suddenly discovered that one of the amphibians had laid a mountain of eggs, ready to hatch.

Until recently, we firmly assumed that the axolotls Morpheus and Twelve, residing in the watery vivarium here in BioArt Laboratories, were both males. However, on a Monday not long ago, we suddenly discovered that one of the amphibians had laid a mountain of eggs, ready to hatch.

EVENT INFORMATION

While we aim to keep the abode of our pets as comfortable as possible, the claim that pet keeping is the potential limit could not be farther from the truth. Axolotls have always been and continue to be an interesting animal species to keep in a lab. They are regarded as model organisms, which means that they display biological phenomena worthy of exploration that are either specific to their species or comparable to that of humans. Both make the axolotl a very promising subject for scientific research.

Morpheus and Twelve in their home
Morpheus and Twelve in their home

Similarly to that of most aquatic creatures, their eggs are diaphanous and are therefore used to monitor the development of the embryo, concerning other organisms as well. In addition, axolotl embryos possess the unique ability to survive with little to no heart function. This provides insight about heart deficiencies in humans. However, the most fascinating attribute of the axolotl is its regenerative abilities. Many organisms use scarring tissue to recover from any wounds the body might have sustained. This tissue is inferior to normal skin in the sense of less resistance to UV-radiation and, should the organism have any, sweat glands and hair follicles will not grow back. Axolotls do not use scarring tissue to heal injuries. Instead, the damaged or lost tissue is revitalized and grown back while maintaining the functionality of the original tissue. It is not a problem for the axolotl to grow back an entire limb, should the unfortunate animal be relieved of one. Also, internal organs, including eyes, the spine and less vital parts of the brain are regenerated by the axolotl. Scientists already succeeded in transplanting a defective organ from a deceased congener to a live one, whereupon the recipient restored the organ to full functionality. This phenomenon enables scientists to thoroughly study vertebral limb development in general. Regarding cell regeneration, many scientific institutions currently focus on identifying and mapping the genes responsible for this advanced ability. Furthermore, the exact mechanisms in the cell that follow is investigated down to the molecular level. Of all the organisms humanity has discovered until now, axolotls truly are at the apex of cellular regeneration.

 

A few of the many babies of Morpheus and Twelve
A few of the many babies of Morpheus and Twelve
The discovery
The discovery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Stuart Smits