We recently embarked on a new and exciting line of study in the earless toad research project that aims to understand why so many frogs and toads have independently evolved 'earlessness', lack of a tympanic middle ear.
An incredible CSU neurobiology student rotating in the Hoke lab, Marissa Metz, quickly delved into the earless toad project and discovered that earless toads have larger cell sizes than eared toads!
In all animals, cell size and genome size are positively correlated with larger cells equally larger genomes. Additionally, in amphibians, genome size is linked to longer development lengths.
Since a shift in development timing is one of the major hypotheses for earlessness in anurans we wanted to investigate this link of earlessness and genome size further. Unfortunately, there are only a few earless anurans in the animal genome size database to compare with eared anurans.
So we collaborated with the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and extracted blood cells from eared and earless frog and toad specimens in their collection.
We were then able to stain those cells with a particular set of chemicals that allowed us to quantify the amount of nuclear DNA in the blood cells and measure genome size!
Results to follow...
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