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"Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

This is a discussion on "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade? within the Tiger Salamander & Axolotl (Ambystoma tigrinum, A. mavortium spp, etc.) forums, part of the Species, Genus & Family Discussions category; These photos started a lively debate in a group on Facebook, and I couldn't find any information on the subject ...

Tiger Salamander & Axolotl (Ambystoma tigrinum, A. mavortium spp, etc.) The Tiger Salamanders and the Axolotl are so popular amongst hobbyists that they have been given their own topic. If you're particularly interested in the Axolotl, there is a large section of the forum devoted mainly to beginner Axolotl enthusiasts (not this topic).

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Old 26th October 2016   #1 (permalink)
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Default "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

These photos started a lively debate in a group on Facebook, and I couldn't find any information on the subject when I did a search here on Caudata, so I thought it might be worth sharing

(This is a cross post to one I made already in Axolotl General Discussion. I hope that is not a problem).

These animals were made by doing cell transplants on embryos (sort of artificial mosaics, I suppose) by "Strohl's Herptiles" and are apparently now being marketed as "Fireflies" and sold as pets.


You can see Strohl's company page here: https://www.facebook.com/strohlsherps/
(I apologize if this link shouldn't be posted. Please edit or delete if so.)

Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.


---

Do you think it's ethical to do transplants on embryos (or on living animals), in the hope of one day regrowing human limbs? What about for the sole purpose of selling them as pets?

What do you think about these being introduced to the pet trade, as happened with GFP (and now also NFP/RFP) transgenic axolotls, or of laboratory animals in general being sold as pets, after the experiment is over?

Cell transplants done on embryos, (like the ones pictured), when done for research purposes, are totally fine in my view, since the embryo apparently doesn't have the ability to feel any pain.


At first, I was under the impression that these ones in these photos were made for research or educational purposes, and were only now being sold as pets, having served their purpose in the lab, but I wondered how laboratory test subjects could have ended up in the hands of a professional reptile and amphibian breeder, if they hadn't been intended for selling.

I joked that maybe a high school science teacher had decided to go "Breaking Bad" on the side.

It seems like the "Breaking Axolotl" theory might not be so far fetched after all. It looks like Strohl is in fact some sort of science teacher.

---

"Strohl's Herptiles:
Most mosaics are random "accidents". This one is the result of some very careful embryonic cell manipulation.
Like · Reply · 3 · June 10 at 11:22pm
-
Elizabeth Wilson:
Ok, so you are saying this mosaic was created artificially in a lab?
Like · Reply · 1 · June 12 at 11:49am
-
Rodrigo Portillo:
interesting
Like · Reply · June 12 at 2:40pm
-
Strohl's Herptiles:
Elizabeth Wilson Yes. A basement, actually.

I have seven natural mosaics, and a symmetrical chimera, as well.
Like · Reply · June 12 at 3:13pm
-
Rodrigo Portillo:
Strohl's Herptiles that's really cool, how exactly do you do this
Like · Reply · June 12 at 3:18pm
-

Strohl's Herptiles:
Its a process I worked out with my students and a lot of research. You have to produce eggs from two genetic lines at exactly the same time (or carefully manipulate their development with temperature regulation) to get embryos at exactly the same stage of development, then take cells or even whole body regions from one early-stage embryo and graft it to another before the cells become too specialized. Of course, there's a lot more to it.

Axolotls' extraordinary immune system, which accepts cells from other genetic lines without rejection, and ability to heal without scarring makes this possible..."
---

I'm still not sure whether these were made purely to be sold as pets, or if they served some sort of educational purpose.

I'm not intending this to be any sort of moral judgment, by the way. The Facebook group that I mentioned had all sorts of wild statements popping up, like: "This is playing God!" and "Next they'll want to make a human baby with one black leg and one white leg!".

My opinion is that since there is obviously a market for novelty pets, it's probably better that people have access to unique animals such as GFP and NFP/"RFP" axolotls and frogs, rather than ones that have been dyed or injected, although I'm still not sure how I feel about the "Fireflies".

I just thought it was interesting and worth sharing.


Transplants are also done using living axolotls, (for those who aren't aware), by laboratories, to study limb transplantation and regeneration for the purpose of (hopefully) one day being able to regenerate human limbs.

I think that the transplants which are done on living animals, (not the ones pictured here), are a bit grotesque, but as long as it's done using anesthetic, and for the purpose of research, it may be justified.

I'm a bit uncomfortable with the idea of people doing cell transplants, (or transplants on living animals, if it comes to that), if it's being done for the sole purpose of making novelty "designer" pets, although I still think it's probably preferable to axolotls and frogs being dyed or injected.

What do you think?

---

--- (Quote from an article on transplantation using living axolotls) ---

"Take One Axolotl:

The researchers first added a section of DNA to an axolotl so that it expressed green fluorescent proteins throughout its body. Then they transplanted cells from this animal into a normal axolotl, whose leg they amputated....

As the axolotl regrew its limb, the team tracked the fluorescent proteins to see what happened to each cell type. Despite going through a blastema stage and dividing, the muscle cells did not turn into any other types of tissue. The same was true of Schwann cells, which form a protective sheath around nerve cells. However, other tissue types were more flexible, with dermis cells also able to differentiate into cartilage tissue, but not muscle...

The team also grafted cartilage and Schwann cells from the tip of a limb onto the upper arm of an amputated axolotl. They found that the cartilage cells moved to their old location in the newly-formed replacement limb, whereas the Schwann cells were more widely distributed.

Previous research had shown that blastema from different tissues behaves distinctly despite the uniform appearance of the cells, says Jeremy Brockes, a cellular and molecular biologist at University College, London. But those experiments were not able to track the blastema cells in such detail, he adds. They also relied on using cell in cultures, rather than directly grafting them from one animal to another, which may have interfered with the cells' behaviour, Tanaka suggests.

Researchers will need to learn much more about which molecular signals control blastema cells if they want to adapt the salamander's tricks for therapies in humans, says Tanaka. For example, using the fluorescent protein marker, she hopes to track when particular genes are activated during salamander regeneration, and she is optimistic that regenerating mammal limbs "may eventually be possible".

It is important to discover how molecular signals tell a cell that its neighbouring tissue has been cut off, and what triggers the regeneration process, says Brockes. Following cells during regeneration is a start, but "there's an enormous amount to learn", he says...."

Salamander cells remember their origins in limb regeneration : Nature News



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Old 1st November 2016   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

is it possible???we know about donorregistration!!!can u use any part,of any newt,2 transplant???i am not sure???
this would be a breakthrue in science!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeAquatics View Post
These photos started a lively debate in a group on Facebook, and I couldn't find any information on the subject when I did a search here on Caudata, so I thought it might be worth sharing

(This is a cross post to one I made already in Axolotl General Discussion. I hope that is not a problem).

These animals were made by doing cell transplants on embryos (sort of artificial mosaics, I suppose) by "Strohl's Herptiles" and are apparently now being marketed as "Fireflies" and sold as pets.


You can see Strohl's company page here: https://www.facebook.com/strohlsherps/
(I apologize if this link shouldn't be posted. Please edit or delete if so.)

Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.


---

Do you think it's ethical to do transplants on embryos (or on living animals), in the hope of one day regrowing human limbs? What about for the sole purpose of selling them as pets?

What do you think about these being introduced to the pet trade, as happened with GFP (and now also NFP/RFP) transgenic axolotls, or of laboratory animals in general being sold as pets, after the experiment is over?

Cell transplants done on embryos, (like the ones pictured), when done for research purposes, are totally fine in my view, since the embryo apparently doesn't have the ability to feel any pain.


At first, I was under the impression that these ones in these photos were made for research or educational purposes, and were only now being sold as pets, having served their purpose in the lab, but I wondered how laboratory test subjects could have ended up in the hands of a professional reptile and amphibian breeder, if they hadn't been intended for selling.

I joked that maybe a high school science teacher had decided to go "Breaking Bad" on the side.

It seems like the "Breaking Axolotl" theory might not be so far fetched after all. It looks like Strohl is in fact some sort of science teacher.

---

"Strohl's Herptiles:
Most mosaics are random "accidents". This one is the result of some very careful embryonic cell manipulation.
Like · Reply · 3 · June 10 at 11:22pm
-
Elizabeth Wilson:
Ok, so you are saying this mosaic was created artificially in a lab?
Like · Reply · 1 · June 12 at 11:49am
-
Rodrigo Portillo:
interesting
Like · Reply · June 12 at 2:40pm
-
Strohl's Herptiles:
Elizabeth Wilson Yes. A basement, actually.

I have seven natural mosaics, and a symmetrical chimera, as well.
Like · Reply · June 12 at 3:13pm
-
Rodrigo Portillo:
Strohl's Herptiles that's really cool, how exactly do you do this
Like · Reply · June 12 at 3:18pm
-

Strohl's Herptiles:
Its a process I worked out with my students and a lot of research. You have to produce eggs from two genetic lines at exactly the same time (or carefully manipulate their development with temperature regulation) to get embryos at exactly the same stage of development, then take cells or even whole body regions from one early-stage embryo and graft it to another before the cells become too specialized. Of course, there's a lot more to it.

Axolotls' extraordinary immune system, which accepts cells from other genetic lines without rejection, and ability to heal without scarring makes this possible..."
---

I'm still not sure whether these were made purely to be sold as pets, or if they served some sort of educational purpose.

I'm not intending this to be any sort of moral judgment, by the way. The Facebook group that I mentioned had all sorts of wild statements popping up, like: "This is playing God!" and "Next they'll want to make a human baby with one black leg and one white leg!".

My opinion is that since there is obviously a market for novelty pets, it's probably better that people have access to unique animals such as GFP and NFP/"RFP" axolotls and frogs, rather than ones that have been dyed or injected, although I'm still not sure how I feel about the "Fireflies".

I just thought it was interesting and worth sharing.


Transplants are also done using living axolotls, (for those who aren't aware), by laboratories, to study limb transplantation and regeneration for the purpose of (hopefully) one day being able to regenerate human limbs.

I think that the transplants which are done on living animals, (not the ones pictured here), are a bit grotesque, but as long as it's done using anesthetic, and for the purpose of research, it may be justified.

I'm a bit uncomfortable with the idea of people doing cell transplants, (or transplants on living animals, if it comes to that), if it's being done for the sole purpose of making novelty "designer" pets, although I still think it's probably preferable to axolotls and frogs being dyed or injected.

What do you think?

---

--- (Quote from an article on transplantation using living axolotls) ---

"Take One Axolotl:

The researchers first added a section of DNA to an axolotl so that it expressed green fluorescent proteins throughout its body. Then they transplanted cells from this animal into a normal axolotl, whose leg they amputated....

As the axolotl regrew its limb, the team tracked the fluorescent proteins to see what happened to each cell type. Despite going through a blastema stage and dividing, the muscle cells did not turn into any other types of tissue. The same was true of Schwann cells, which form a protective sheath around nerve cells. However, other tissue types were more flexible, with dermis cells also able to differentiate into cartilage tissue, but not muscle...

The team also grafted cartilage and Schwann cells from the tip of a limb onto the upper arm of an amputated axolotl. They found that the cartilage cells moved to their old location in the newly-formed replacement limb, whereas the Schwann cells were more widely distributed.

Previous research had shown that blastema from different tissues behaves distinctly despite the uniform appearance of the cells, says Jeremy Brockes, a cellular and molecular biologist at University College, London. But those experiments were not able to track the blastema cells in such detail, he adds. They also relied on using cell in cultures, rather than directly grafting them from one animal to another, which may have interfered with the cells' behaviour, Tanaka suggests.

Researchers will need to learn much more about which molecular signals control blastema cells if they want to adapt the salamander's tricks for therapies in humans, says Tanaka. For example, using the fluorescent protein marker, she hopes to track when particular genes are activated during salamander regeneration, and she is optimistic that regenerating mammal limbs "may eventually be possible".

It is important to discover how molecular signals tell a cell that its neighbouring tissue has been cut off, and what triggers the regeneration process, says Brockes. Following cells during regeneration is a start, but "there's an enormous amount to learn", he says...."

Salamander cells remember their origins in limb regeneration : Nature News



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Old 27th November 2016   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joep View Post
is it possible???we know about donorregistration!!!can u use any part,of any newt,2 transplant???i am not sure???
this would be a breakthrue in science!!!

Yes, I think they've even done successful head transplants now.


Transplantation of axolotl heads



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Old 21st January 2017   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

I think the knowledge gained about cell differentiation is useful and fascinating, though human cells may not work quite the same.

I find the glowing tailed axolotls a bit distressing, I think my moral objection is that it sounds like they took two embryos, grafted on the tail from the glowing one and then tossed the rest. It seems a bit of wasted life, but there wasn't any suffering and nature is full of amphibian embryo death. I don't like the injected fish either, but similarly don't have a strong argument against them.

One of the reasons I like axolotls as pets, and similarly like people keeping coral reef aquariums is that the multitude of small aquariums can be an ark for species that otherwise might dissapear. It seems to me that full body glow in the dark axolotls are not likely to survive in the wild, and thus would no longer serve that purpose, so that's an argument against them.

I think anything in the pet trade that doesn't create suffering and does provide an exotic pet without pulling one from the wild is likely a good thing.



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Old 21st January 2017   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

Update from Lloyd Strohl (note: I have spoken to him and he says that his response was not directed towards me for writing this article, rather towards the people who were making rude and misleading suggestions in various Facebook groups)

"Lloyd Strohl II added 2 new photos.
November 24, 2016
I offer the following information regarding the infamous “firefly axolotls”.

Please note that I will not reveal details of the complete process involved, any more than I will explain how to make fluorescent human babies (easy, but very expensive), make dinosaurs from emus (very hard and time-consuming, but relatively cheap with the discovery and implementation of CRISPR-Cas9), or destroy every malaria-transmitting Anopheles mosquito on Earth (moderately easy, moderately expensive, and very tempting) because irresponsible people with a little knowledge are dangerous.

First; There are ONLY SIX FIREFLIES. There are three with the GFP tails, and three with normal, non-GFP tails.

Second; Why did I make them?

The short answer is; I am doing a preliminary investigation into the distribution and activation of melanocytes in leucistic axolotls and, in particular, in mosaics. The long answer follows:

I started this investigation after observing several things that seem to contradict accepted wisdom regarding the effect of the leucistic gene in axies, as well as the cause of mosaicism in these animals. The first conundrum resulted when I bred a homozygous melanistic wild-type animal to a golden albino, which should invariably produce only black/spotted offspring. Two of the offspring were not black, but appeared to be leucistic. As these two grew, broad patches of dark pigment became obvious, and I realized they were actually mosaic. The problem with this is; If the conventional wisdom that mosaicism is due to the fusion of two eggs to form one individual (as has been proven conclusively to occur in many organisms, including humans), then these beautiful little mosaics are impossible. Given that the leucistic gene is recessive to the melanistic or wild-type, there could have been no leucistic eggs to join with the black ones, since the mother did not carry that gene.

I began reading everything I could find regarding the genetics of axolotls. This turned out to be a short and pretty unproductive read, failing to answer any questions regarding mosaicism in axies, because there simply hasn’t been any significant research into this. Dr Malikinski, former head of the IU axolotl colony (and original source of my first two animals) directed me to Dr. Randal Voss, geneticist and director of the colony at the University of Kentucky. Randal was kind enough to provide some information, and suggested that my particular mosaics, at least, may be the result of methylation early in development.

During this time I was fortunate to find several more mosaics among my animals, varying tremendously in appearance and distribution of melanocytes. I noted that melanocytes were clearly visible (under a microscope) in the white patches of these animals, but that the melanocytes failed to grow the branching dendrites typical of these cells in darker patches, and most eventually died or failed to produce any melanin to reveal their presence. Unfortunately, I could not draw any realistic conclusions as to the cause of this, since I could not know exactly what genes had been methylated. For example; were the white patches really leucistic, or albino?

According to common wisdom on the subject, the leucistic axolotls produce melanocytes along the neural crest, as all vertebrates do early in development, but these cells fail to migrate away from the neural crest and spread over the body. If this is true, then how did melanocytes end up in the white patches of my mosaics, and what killed them or shut them off?

One of my animals, in particular, piqued my curiosity. He first caught my eye because the GFP gene is expressed only on his right side – not on the left. By definition, then, he is a mosaic, and what many American axolotl enthusiasts call a “chimera”. He appeared, otherwise, to be a normal wild-type. A he grew, however, small pale patches became noticeable and grew into distinct white spots. Within these spots were melanocytes that were pale and nearly free of dendrites.

I decided that the only way to continue my investigation was to produce mosaic animals synthetically. This way, I could be certain of the genetic components of the cells in each patch of tissue.

I had seen pictures of the black-headed, white-bodied axolotls produced by a team of Japanese researchers back in the ‘90s, and had read research in which axolotl embryos had been fused to produce chimeric animals for a study of a lethal version of the gene that controls myofibrillogenesis.

Using these studies and others on various species of salamanders and frogs as a guide, I set to work to produce chimeras. The university studies had succeeded in producing chimeras, but at very low rates of success. George Malakinski and others cited success rates lower than 2% (ususally much lower), meaning that most fused embryos failed to fuse properly and died or had to be destroyed. While subsidized university studies could invest that sort of time and material, I could not, so I worked with small numbers of embryos, methodically testing different methods, modified ringer’s solutions, and antibiotics at different concentrations until I was confident I could do it reliably.

I will not describe the process I ultimately worked out. It is expensive and time-consuming, but I can now fuse embryos with relative ease and at a very high success rate.

The first one and his dark-tailed leucistic sibling (sharing four parents) were produced as a proof-of-concept for my investigation of the pigment distribution and activation in leucistic axolotls. Actually, the dark-tailed lucy was deliberately produced; The firefly was really just a byproduct of that process. You see, for every firefly there is also a dark-tailed lucy – the actual goal of the embryo fusion. If this investigation were being done in a university or commercial laboratory, the wild-type and melanoid embryos used as the cell donors for this investigation would have been destroyed, since they were not the focus of the investigation. I saw no reason to do that, since I knew that both the “donor” embryo and the recipient could live out their happy, healthy lives with just a little additional effort, so that’s what I did. I am keeping the original two animals (See Pic labelled "Figure A"), which are now about six months old, and the other dark-tailed lucies (See Pic labelled "Figure B") – at least until they’ve matured and fulfilled their purpose.

So, you see, the fireflies are not the goal, but a by-product of my investigations. I have sold them because I am an underpaid, overworked teacher, not a wealthy entrepreneur, and (a) cannot afford to keep them all properly and (b) need cash to buy equipment.

And yes, there will be more produced now and then as I continue my efforts.

One of my students recently told me she had read an article online regarding someone “mass-producing” firefly axolotls for the pet trade. I looked into it, and was a bit startled how far this “discussion” has gone online. The article included pics I had posted on Facebook of my animals. My personal favorite statement was that I had “gone all Breaking Bad”.

Yes, that’s right; My wife is even now piling our ill-gained axolotl cash on pallets in a storage locker because there’s just too much to launder away.

I don’t, on principle, argue with internet Trolls. I realize most of them are (a) incapable of grasping the value of evidence and logical argument, and (b) are simply trying to validate their sad, lonely lives as they sit in their mother’s basement in the cool glow of the six-year-old laptop she gave them for their 40th birthday. On the other hand, I am a teacher and academic at heart, and get very disturbed when I see misinformation spread as truth..."

--- https://www.facebook.com/lloyd.stroh...87705631327797



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Old 26th January 2017   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

Updated picture, shared with permission.

Click the image to open in full size.



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Old 26th January 2017   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

Quote:
Originally Posted by IWishIWasAFish View Post
I think the knowledge gained about cell differentiation is useful and fascinating, though human cells may not work quite the same.

I find the glowing tailed axolotls a bit distressing, I think my moral objection is that it sounds like they took two embryos, grafted on the tail from the glowing one and then tossed the rest. It seems a bit of wasted life, but there wasn't any suffering and nature is full of amphibian embryo death. I don't like the injected fish either, but similarly don't have a strong argument against them.

One of the reasons I like axolotls as pets, and similarly like people keeping coral reef aquariums is that the multitude of small aquariums can be an ark for species that otherwise might dissapear. It seems to me that full body glow in the dark axolotls are not likely to survive in the wild, and thus would no longer serve that purpose, so that's an argument against them.

I think anything in the pet trade that doesn't create suffering and does provide an exotic pet without pulling one from the wild is likely a good thing.
Actually, in laboratories, I believe that this is what would normally be done, but if you read the update I posted recently from Lloyd Strohl, you'll see that he did this experiment without wasting any embryos, by swapping each embryo graft with another.

As far as axolotls in the pet trade go, none of them are technically suitable for release into the wild at this point, due to the many generations of breeding in captivity, and I believe that there are actually dedicated breeding projects going on in Mexico, by professional biologists, using wild caught individuals, so that they can be released into the wild if and when the water pollution and invasive species issue is ever resolved to the point that they can survive in the canals.


EDGE :: Amphibian Species Information



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Old 27th January 2017   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

Cell/tissue transplants on axolotls have been done in labs for many years. We did something like this in an undergraduate Developmental Bio class that I took in the 1980s, and it was nothing new then.



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Old 28th January 2017   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

here's some old splice pictures.
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Old 2nd February 2017   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Jennewt View Post
Cell/tissue transplants on axolotls have been done in labs for many years. We did something like this in an undergraduate Developmental Bio class that I took in the 1980s, and it was nothing new then.
Yes, I had heard of cell transplants being done before, and I from what I understand, that's one of the reasons that axolotls are so popular in laboratories, since their large embryos make transplants easier to do, so I agree that this certainly nothing new to science. However, as far as I know, this is the first case of them being produced for the pet trade, although from Strohl's later comments, it seems that the primary purpose was to satisfy his personal scientific curiosity, and that selling them as pets came after the fact.



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Old 21st February 2017   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

When these chimeras were shown at the Indy Reptile Show at the state fairgrounds the exhibitor swore they were made by breeding. They are made by embryo fusion or cell injection. The guy claimed embryos "just fall apart" if you try to make axo chimeras. I know scientists in Japan who made axo chimeras. I don't understand how the fluorescent ones are allowed into the pet trade when it requires so much bio safety paperwork at my university.



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Old 21st February 2017   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

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Originally Posted by GeorgeAquatics View Post

As far as axolotls in the pet trade go, none of them are technically suitable for release into the wild at this point, due to the many generations of breeding in captivity, and I believe that there are actually dedicated breeding projects going on in Mexico, by professional biologists, using wild caught individuals, so that they can be released into the wild if and when the water pollution and invasive species issue is ever resolved to the point that they can survive in the canals
I think your very much mistaken, axolotls do very well in ponds and those raised in "wild" setups look in excellent condition. Pet axolotls could easily recolanise a suitable habitat. The unsuitability of pet trade axolotls for wild release would be the tiger sal genes in them.



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Old 22nd February 2017   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

Releasing captive animals in to the wild can have quite the negative impact on the ecosystem. Even if you had wild caught that animal from the exact pond, and wanted to return it a year later. You never know what it could have picked up (disease-wise) while in your possession/if it crossed paths with any other animals you might have(amphibs).



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Old 22nd February 2017   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

As an animal caretaker in a university research setting, it does bother me that he is selling these for profit. I don't believe our animal research ethics committee would sign off on this. Research animals are typically not allowed to enter the pet trade, though we may offer some up for adoption, since we do get overcrowded, and the costs certainly do pile up.



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Old 23rd February 2017   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

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Originally Posted by shnabo View Post
Releasing captive animals in to the wild can have quite the negative impact on the ecosystem. Even if you had wild caught that animal from the exact pond, and wanted to return it a year later. You never know what it could have picked up (disease-wise) while in your possession/if it crossed paths with any other animals you might have(amphibs).
I was referring to pet axolotls ability to live in the wild not the practical aspects ,like disease control , which would be a factor in a captive release program.



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Old 16th March 2017   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

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I think your very much mistaken, axolotls do very well in ponds and those raised in "wild" setups look in excellent condition. Pet axolotls could easily recolanise a suitable habitat. The unsuitability of pet trade axolotls for wild release would be the tiger sal genes in them.
It's not their ability to survive that I was referring to, but rather their suitability. They've apparently actually already begun recolonizing small protected areas in the axolotl's natural habitat, and it's going very well by all accounts, but I believe that was done using the offspring of wild caught animals, not ones that have been bred in captivity for many generations. Of course, the ones that have been crossed with tiger salamanders would be especially harmful, but apparently that's also true for pure axolotls, according to the article from "Edge Of Existence":

"There are already several captive colonies around the world for the axolotl, since this species is used in physiological and biomedical research, as well as in the pet trade, but the re-introduction of captive-bred axolotls is not recommended until threats can be neutralised and disease and genetic risks to wild populations assessed. Furthermore, captive bred populations lose affinity for their wild habitat with each successive generation away from their wild descendents. Most captive bred populations of axolotls bear little resemblance to their wild ancestors, especially the leucistic (or albino) varieties..."

--- EDGE :: Amphibian Species Information


Here's the link to the video where you can see the lake which was repopulated with axolotls, if you want to. --- https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=lL87xhk63FM



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Old 16th March 2017   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

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When these chimeras were shown at the Indy Reptile Show at the state fairgrounds the exhibitor swore they were made by breeding. They are made by embryo fusion or cell injection. The guy claimed embryos "just fall apart" if you try to make axo chimeras. I know scientists in Japan who made axo chimeras. I don't understand how the fluorescent ones are allowed into the pet trade when it requires so much bio safety paperwork at my university.
I'm not sure if this is the same person who you say at the Reptile Expo, but I believe that Strohl's Herptiles have also had a few natural chimeras which they produced by breeding. I think that the reason he gave for wanting to do this project was that he was trying to better understand mosaicism. Maybe he was still attempting to perfect the process, when you spoke to him there, if this is the same individual.

He actually just posted an update recently, that they had some kind of possible breakthrough in the study.

"Potential BREAKTHROUGH!
Just had a major insight: I'm just about absolutely convinced that I know the mechanism that produces the most common forms of mosaicism in axolotls, and it is NOT what virtually everyone thinks!
Must now review my breeding records for further evidence. I'm now repeatedly kicking myself for not realizing this earlier, and for not keeping more precise pedigree records of every animal in my colony.
If any of you have produced a mosaic and have accurate records of their pedigrees for at least two generations, with phenotypes (appearance) and genotypes ("hets", etc) of parents, I would GREATLY appreciate having that information!"

So maybe this has all led to something positive. We have to wait and see, I guess. If it does turn out to be a major discovery, I'm sure that we will all be hearing about it soon enough.



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Old 16th March 2017   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: "Firefly" Cell-transplanted A. mexicanum being made for the pet trade?

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Originally Posted by Biev View Post
As an animal caretaker in a university research setting, it does bother me that he is selling these for profit. I don't believe our animal research ethics committee would sign off on this. Research animals are typically not allowed to enter the pet trade, though we may offer some up for adoption, since we do get overcrowded, and the costs certainly do pile up.
Being a highschool teacher, I don't think there would have been any sort of ethics committee to have to go through in this case. Yes, that was what I'd noticed laboratory workers commenting on, how they were surprised that something like this could happen. One of them was saying that the rules were really strict, and that they weren't even allowed to take pictures, and that they would never be sold.

Do you think that there could be any legal issues that would go against doing something like this, putting the ethical issues aside? I mean, is there any law against a person doing this sort of "informal research", I guess it would be called?

To be fair, I don't think that they are really making much profit. I would guess that this sort of thing could sell for thousands of dollars each, if it were marketed as some sort of "designer pet". The ones I saw for sale were more to the tune of $150-$200, not even enough to cover the cost of all the supplies that were used, I'm guessing. It's also a fairly small number that were made, something like six total, if my memory serves me right.

The level of controversy was surprising to them, apparently. Who would have guessed that there would be whole communities of caudate enthusiasts, eagerly observing? Some of the people in those axolotl Facebook groups were getting really fired up.

Personally, I find the grafting of actual limbs and heads to be a lot more disturbing, although that is done for legitimate research purposes, so I guess more justifiable. I'm not really sure where I stand. Conflicted, I guess. To be approved by an ethics committee, a proposal for animal experimentation would have to have been shown to have a likely benefit for humanity, right?



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