Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

An Introduction to the Mexican Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)

Abstract

A number of unusual traits, including a remarkable capacity for wound healing and limb regeneration, make the axolotl an interesting animal model. The author provides an overview of axolotl care and use in biomedical research.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Wild-type axolotl with gill branches spread.
Figure 2: Top: Male axolotl with prominent jelly gland.
Figure 3
Figure 4: An animal room at the IUAC.
Figure 5
Figure 6
Figure 7: Adult melanoid axolotl.
Figure 8: Adult female albino axolotl.

References

  1. 1

    Smith, H.M. in Developmental Biology of the Axolotl (eds. Armstrong, J.B. & Malacinski, G.M.) 3–12 (Oxford University Press, New York, 1989).

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Griffiths, R.A., Graue, V. & Bride, I.G. The axolotls of Lake Xochimilco: the evolution of a conservation program. Axolotl Newslett. 30, 12–18 (2003).

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Muneoka, K., Bryant, S.V. & Gardiner, D.M. in Developmental Biology of the Axolotl (eds. Armstrong, J.B. & Malacinski, G.M.) 143–156 (Oxford University Press, New York, 1989).

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Chernoff, A.G. & Stocum, D.L. Developmental aspects of spinal cord and limb regeneration. Dev. Growth Differ. 37(2), 133–147 (1995).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Nye, H.L., Cameron, J.A., Chernoff, E.A. & Stocum, D.L. Regeneration of the urodele limb: a review. Dev. Dynam. 226(2), 280–294 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Tassava, R.A. & Olsen-Winner, C.L. Responses to amputation of denervated Ambystoma limbs containing aneurogenic limb grafts. J. Exp. Zool. 297A(1), 64–79 (2002).

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Barlow, L.A. Specification of pharyngeal endoderm is dependent on early signals from axial mesoderm. Development 128(22), 4573–4583 (2001).

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Drawbridge, J., Meighan, C.M., Lumpkins, R. & Kite, M.E. Pronephric duct extension in amphibian embryos: migration and other mechanisms. Dev. Dynam. 226, 1–11 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Shook, D.R., Majer, C. & Keller, R. Urodeles remove mesoderm from the superficial layer by subduction through a bilateral primitive streak. Dev. Biol. 248(2), 220–239 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Borland, S., Crawford, K. & Brand, V. Setting the stage: developmental biology in the pre-college classroom. Int. J. Dev. Biol. 47(2–3), 85–91 (2003).

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Voss, S.R. & Shaffer, H.B. Evolutionary genetics of metamorphic failure using wild-caught vs. laboratory axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum). Mol. Ecol. 9(9), 1401–1407 (2000).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Voss, S.R. & Shaffer, H.B. Adaptive evolution via a major gene effect: paedomorphosis in the mexican axolotl. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 94(25), 14185–14189 (1997).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Asashima, M., Malacinski, G.M. & Smith, S.C. in Developmental Biology of the Axolotl (eds. Armstrong, J.B. & Malacinski, G.M.) 255–263 (Oxford University Press, New York, 1989).

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Bordzilovskaya, N.P. & Dettlaff, T.A. Table of stages of the normal development of axolotl embryos and the prognostication of timing of successive developmental stages at various temperatures. Axolotl Newslett. 7, 2–22 (1979).

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Duhon, S. The I.U. Axolotl Colony's Short Guide to the Care and Feeding of Axolotls: an overview of the methods used at the Indiana University Axolotl Colony. Axolotl Newslett. 17, 15–18 (1988).

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Carpenter, J.W., Ruppier, D.J. & Mashima, T.Y. Exotic Animal Formulary 2nd Edn. 25 (W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, 2001).

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    FishDoc. Malachite green and formalin: a good general-purpose anti-parasite treatment. http://www.fishdoc.co.uk/treatments/malachite.htm.

  18. 18

    Frye, F.L. & Williams, D.L. Self-Assessment Color Review of Reptiles and Amphibians 19–20 (Iowa State University Press, Ames, IA, 1995).

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Borland, S. Practical axolotl. Axolotl Newslett. 28, 17–21 (2000).

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Davidson, E.W., Jancovich, J.K., Borland, S., Newberry, M. & Gresens, J. What's Your Diagnosis? Dermal lesions, hemorrhage, and limb swelling in laboratory axolotls. Lab Anim. (NY) 32(3), 23–25 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Humphrey, R.R. The Axolotl Colony at Indiana University. Axolotl Newslett. 1, 3–8 (1979).

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Keller, R.E., Loftberg, J. & Spieth, J. Neural crest cell behavior in white and dark embryos of Ambystoma mexicanum: epidermal inhibition of pigment cell migration in the white axolotl. Dev. Biol. 89(1), 179–195 (1982).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Frost-Mason, S.K. & Mason, K.A. What insights into vertebrate pigmentation has the axolotl model system provided? Int. J. Dev. Biol. 40(4), 685–693 (1996).

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Frost, S.K. in Developmental Biology of the Axolotl (eds. Armstrong, J.B. & Malacinski, G.M.) 119–131 (Oxford University Press, New York, 1989).

    Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Armstrong, J.B. The axolotl mutants. Dev. Genet. 6, 1–25 (1985).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    Humphrey, R.R. & Bagnara, J.T. A color variant in the Mexican axolotl. J. Hered. 58(5), 251–256 (1967).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    Humphrey, R.R. Albino axolotls from an albino tiger salamander through hybridization. J. Hered. 58(3), 95–101 (1967).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

All the work done by the IUAC is possible because of the generous support of the National Science Foundation (current award number DBI-0234425). In addition, the author would like to thank Axolotl Colony Director George Malacinski and the two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on the first drafts of this paper. Extra thanks to IUAC Curator Rachel Boyd for her photography assistance.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jill Gresens BS, ALAT.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Gresens, J. An Introduction to the Mexican Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum). Lab Anim 33, 41–47 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/laban1004-41

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing