Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Department of Biology

Advisor(s)

Carol Hurney

Susan Halsell

Patrice Ludwig

Abstract

Tails are common among most vertebrates. The embryonic tails of most vertebrates grow into adulthood while other vertebrates absorb them. Interestingly, some species of salamanders have the ability to add axial segments to their tails post-embryonically. In the salamander, Hemidactylium scutatum, postembryonic growth of the tail is due to the development of new caudal vertebrae, as well as the growth of pre-existing segments. The mechanisms that drive the postembryonic segmentation in salamanders are relatively unexplored and may offer insights on the molecular nature of tail development in vertebrates. I found evidence that larval and adult tail growth could be utilizing the same mechanisms for tail segmentation that are used in embryonic tail development by comparing the expression of Wnt8 and My5 in the developing tails of H. scutatum embryos, larvae, and adults. Specifically, the expression of Wnt8 in the growing tails suggests that both larval and adult H. scutatum continue to segment through the use of a molecular oscillating clock and/or a tail organizer, which induces the tail to undergo somitogenesis and, with the aid of Myf5, develop skeletal muscle in the tail.

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