December 2007 Archives

I had a phone call today from a fellow volunteer monitor. Out on a walk at a local nature center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, she took the occasion to check for salamanders and first try, found a Slimy Salamander. I am not sure if this was an attempt to rub it in my face that while they are enjoying 75 degrees in Tennessee, temperatures are roughly 60 degrees colder here in Wisconsin/Minnesota. Any opportunity for finding a salamander is many months away for me.
I come across these three American researchers consistently as I review amphibian (particularly salamander) research and read of discoveries of new salamander species. I've based many of the posts in this blog on information from these researchers so some recognition was due.

My list of the top salamander researchers in the USA:

  • Andrew Blaustein, Oregon State University An expert on amphibian declines, Dr. Blaustein is consistently interviewed magazines such as Nature and Discover.
  • David Wake, University of California at Berkeley Every time I turn around he seems to be discovering a new species. He recently described two new species Costa Rican salamander species.
  • James Petranka,The University of North Carolina at Asheville Dr. Petranka is the author of the Handbook of Salamanders, the massive handbook describing the plentiful salamanders species found in North America.
Back in February of 2007, multiple articles were published on the attempts to stimulate limb regrowth in humans by using extracellular matrix from pig bladders. A recent study has gone a step farther detailing the isolation of the entire TGF-beta 1 gene in Axolotls. The TGF-beta 1 gene stimulates the regrowth of lost limbs in Axolotls. Humans have this gene but our cells produce scars instead of inducing regeneration. While application of the extracellular matrix reduced scarring and infection, the isolation of the TGF-beta 1 gene provides the possibility that manipulation of this gene could result in limb regrowth in humans.