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Volume 554 Issue 7690, 1 February 2018

In this issue, Elly Tanaka, Eugene Myers and their colleagues report the 32-billion-base genome of the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), a model organism for developmental, regeneration and evolutionary studies. The team overcame the challenges of sequencing and assembling this large and complex genome, which features many lengthy repetitive regions, by using long-read sequencing, optical mapping and a new computer algorithm known as MARVEL. The researchers estimate that the genome contains around 23,000 protein-coding genes and note that the gene Pax3, which is essential in many animals for development, is absent. Gene editing of the related gene, Pax7, showed that it steps into the breach for some functions. The assembled genome should offer fresh opportunities for the study of evolution, development and regeneration. Cover image: Avalon/Photoshot/Alamy

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