Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Life's a Ball
31 March 2013

Life's a Ball

As a child you may have watched in awe as frog spawn gradually developed into tadpoles, which then morphed into frogs. The fact that this process is so easy to follow has made the African clawed frog – Xenopus laevis – a popular model organism for developmental biologists and genetics researchers. This species has had a distinguished scientific career – it was the first vertebrate to be cloned and has even been blasted into space. Pictured is a Xenopus laevis embryo. It’s just 12 hours old, but has already developed from a single fertilised egg to a hollow ball of thousands of cells, called a blastula. In the next stage of its amazing transformation, this ball of cells will take just three days to become a wriggling tadpole.

Written by Sarah McLusky

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