Developmental biology

Budgett's frog (Lepidobatrachus laevis): A new amphibian embryo for developmental biology.

PMID 26169245


The large size and rapid development of amphibian embryos has facilitated ground-breaking discoveries in developmental biology. Here, we describe the embryogenesis of the Budgett's frog (Lepidobatrachus laevis), an unusual species with eggs that are over twice the diameter of laboratory Xenopus, and embryos that can tolerate higher temperatures to develop into a tadpole four times more rapidly. In addition to detailing their early development, we demonstrate that, like Xenopus, these embryos are amenable to explant culture assays and can express exogenous transcripts in a tissue-specific manner. Moreover, the steep developmental trajectory and large scale of Lepidobatrachus make it exceptionally well-suited for morphogenesis research. For example, the developing organs of the Budgett's frog are massive compared to those of most model species, and are composed of larger individual cells, thereby affording increased subcellular resolution of early vertebrate organogenesis. Furthermore, we found that complete limb regeneration, which typically requires months to achieve in most vertebrate models, occurs in a matter of days in the Budgett's tadpole, which substantially accelerates the pace of experimentation. Thus, the unusual combination of the greater size and speed of the Budgett's frog model provides inimitable advantages for developmental studies-and a novel inroad to address the mechanisms of spatiotemporal scaling during evolution.