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Axolotl Assembly

Researchers have pieced together a new assembly of the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) genome, which could aid in better understanding how salamanders regenerate body parts, Discover's D-brief blog reports.

D-brief notes that while the axolotl genome was sequenced last year, it was a jumble of pieces, owing to its large size. The University of Kentucky's Jeramiah Smith and his colleagues, though, have assembled it into 14 chromosome-size scaffolds by modifying a mapping approach to incorporate dense SNP typing data, as they report in Genome Research. They then used fluorescence in situ hybridization to confirm the structure of these scaffolds and assign them to a physical chromosome. This assembly, they add, covers about covers 27.3 gigabases.

The University of California, Irvine's David Gardiner tells Smithsonian magazine that this effort by Smith and his colleagues will help researchers understand how axolotl regulate their genes and how that changes during regeneration. He adds that, eventually, this knowledge could be applied that to develop, for instance, bandages that activate that regenerative response.

Smith tells D-brief that human regeneration is a long ways off, but that in the mean time, there's plenty to learn from axolotls.

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