Scientists Sequence Axolotl Genome: The Largest Genome So Far
The axolotl is one interesting animal, with the ability to regrow limbs, spinal cord segments, brain tissue, nerves and retina, there’s not a lot it can’t do.
According to Zme Science, a team of scientists have managed to successfully decode its entire genetic information. From Vienna, Dresden, and Heidelberg, the researchers believe this new data might help decipher the miracle of limb-regrowth. Coming in at 32 billion base pairs, its genome is ten times larger than the human genome.
The team used the Pac-Bio platform sequencing technology that produces long reads to span large repetitive regions. A total of 72.435.954 reads were sequenced. Next, Gene Myers and Siegfried Schloissnig together with colleagues developed software systems that can assemble the genome from the 72 million pieces.
As a result, they discovered that the uniqueness of the axolotl resides in its genes, the animal only shares several genes expressed in regenerating limb tissue with other amphibian species. A vital development gene that plays essential roles within neural and muscle development, PAX3 is completely over its functions.
Sergej Nowoshilow, co-first author of the study, explained, “We now have the map in our hands to investigate how complicated structures such as legs can be re-grown. This is a turning point for the community of scientists working with axolotl, a real milestone in a research adventure that started more than 150 years ago.”
Due to their regenerative abilities, the animal has always been of great interest to scientists. Many researchers hope they might one day be able to do the same for human tissue in certain conditions. The potential impact on medical practices could be very beneficial.