By Andrea F. Carter
There are close to 6,000 frogs in the National Xenopus Resource Center at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole.
The facility, funded by the National Institutes of Health, studies the freshwater African clawed frog and the western clawed frog, Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis, respectively. Shelves of plastic tanks containing the frogs line the walls. A separate room serves as a nursery for tadpoles as they develop a strong foothold toward adult life.
A number of these frogs are custom-designed.
Researchers have altered their DNA to answer specific scientific questions, such as which genes give them their green spotted coloring. Making these changes in the frog also can serve as a model for human diseases, such as kidney disease or diabetes. Scientists study these frogs to learn about the genetic causes of these diseases.
A technique called CRISPR-Cas 9 allows scientists to make a targeted mutation in the frog’s DNA, creating about 50 different strains which are sent worldwide to other scientists for research. Read more …
Photo: The African clawed frog Xenopus laevis.