The AP Biology class at LOLHS has been pet sitting three genetically modified axolotls for Dr. Zimmer from Connecticut College since September. Axolotls are salamanders from Mexico and wild stocks are currently considered endangered. Axolotls exhibit a developmental characteristics known as neotony in which adult animals retain juvenile characteristics, in this case, external gills (the pink fluff around the head). Captive breed axolotls are a major part of the amphibian pet trade in the United States, and come in a variety of color patterns. Genetically modified axolotls are used in biomedical research to investigate tissue development and regeneration.
In January, the AP Biology class was given a fourth axolotl as a permanent class specimen. All four animals have had glowing protein genes, either green fluorescent protein (GFP) or red fluorescent protein (RFP), inserted into their genome. In February, the class attempted a mating of a female GPF and a male RFP to learn more about axolotl development and patterns of inheritance. Four of the offspring were raised to juvenile size and inheritance of the GFP and RFP was analyzed. A second mating in April is now being grown out and the offspring will be used by the 2017-18 AP Biology class to further investigate animal development and patterns of inheritance. Animals that are not adopted by students will be donated to science classrooms around the state.
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