DANTE FENOLIO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DANTE FENOLIO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis) has a long sordid history with humans. Human manipulation of the species exceeds 100 years and ranges from using these frogs in human fertility tests to export for the pet trade to use in high tech laboratories. NASA has sent individuals of this species into space to study the effects of zero gravity on their development. In their global travels facilitated by humans, these frogs may have also carried a deadly amphibian pathogen with them, a chytrid fungus that causes the disease chytridiomycosis. Clawed frogs carry the disease but are unaffected by it. Other species are not so lucky. Hundreds of species of amphibians around the globe now suffer population declines owing to this fungal pathogen. The tadpoles of this species are easily managed in the laboratory. Genetic manipulations of this species now regularly inform scientists of issues involving immunology, genomics, environmental toxicology, cell biology, developmental biology, transgenics, and more. This is an albino clawed frog tadpole photographed in a laboratory in 2008.
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