Scientists from the universities of Dresden, Heidelberg and Vienna have recently sequenced the entire genome of the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum). This Mexican salamander serves as a modelorganism in the evolutionary developmental biology and plays an important role in the research on regeneration.
Pluripotent stemcells, neoblasts and blastema give multiple species the capacity to regenerate tissues and organs after loss or damage. Already in 1768 it was discovered that axolotls can regenerate limbs and tails, yet the complete genome of these organisms remained unknown for a long time.
One of the main obstacles in sequencing this genome is its size: the axolotls genome consists of 32 billion basepairs (which is ten times the size of the human genome). By using long read sequencing, optical mapping and the MARVEL algorithm the researchers have sequenced and assembled the genome of the D/D axolotl, a strain that is frequently used in laboratories. The axolotl genome are crucial for future research on regeneration and could – in combination with other techniques – shine new light on the evolutionary basis of this extraordinary capability.
Reference: “The axolotl genome and the evolution of key tissue formation regulators” by Nowoshilow et al.