Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Gary P. Radice


Xenopus as a Model Organism in Evolutionary Developmental Biology

Xenopus laevis, the African clawed frog, is an important model organism in the field of evolutionary developmental biology research. These tongue-less aquatic frogs are basally branching anuran amphibians that display marked sexual dimorphism and have webbed hind feet that sport several small, sharp claws. This species is a useful model organism despite its long generation time and genomic complexity, for historical and practical reasons. The animal adapts well to housing in a laboratory setting, and its reproduction can be induced simply through a single injection of human chorionic gonadotropin into a pair of adults. The great number of embryos generated, in this manner, are each large and easy to manipulate. Additionally, Xenopus embryos are simple to stage throughout development following external fertilization, as the appearance of anatomical characteristics is highly predictable, varies linearly with temperature, and has been well-documented (Nieuwkoop and Faber 1956). The tadpole stages of albino X. laevis are almost entirely transparent, allowing for non- invasive inspection of internal tissues and organs of live animals. These characteristics, in combination with its phylogenetic position in a basal tetrapod lineage, makes it a valuable and interesting experimental subject to study in the context of an evolutionary developmental laboratory.

Included in

Biology Commons