Scientists isolate, remove gene for “frog dignity”

Well... He's pretty funny and pathetic...: But don't you think he'd be a little funnier and sadder if we could see through him?  (Photo by jepoirrer on flickr.com)
Well... He's pretty funny and pathetic...: But don't you think he'd be a little funnier and sadder if we could see through him? (Photo by jepoirrer on flickr.com)
Japanese scientists have struck the final, hilarious, and kind of yucky blow in the age-old fight to put frogs “back in their place.”

“Everyone already knows that dressing frogs up in clothing is pretty funny,” stated lead researcher Masayuki Sumida, professor at the Institute for Amphibian Biology of state-run Hiroshima University, “But a while back we started to wonder, ‘what if we went just the opposite way?’ What if we could create a completely naked frog?

“That would really show them who’s the boss,” added Sumida.

The IAB team would soon find, however, that creating a “naked” frog is much more difficult than one might assume. As it happens, merely removing the clothing that one has already put on a frog does not result in a naked frog. Instead what you end up with is simply a “frog.”

Taking the next logical step, the team attempted anesthetizing a frog, and removing its skin. This, they hoped, would overcome the amphibian’s natural defenses against nakedness. This experiment produced a suitably naked, but unfortunately “dead” frog, and, as the point of the experiment was to humiliate the creature, Sumida felt that the team must take a new direction.

For some time very little progress was made, and the team feared that the project’s funding would soon fall through, for lack of results. One night, however, a plucky young member of the research team remembered that the Japanese brown frog, or rena japonica carried two separate chromosomal slots, which, if occupied by specific recessive genes, could cause the normally dark colored frog to be born pale. Acting on a hunch, the researcher bred groups of frogs carrying the recessive genes. When a frog was finally produced that carried both sets of recessive genes, the team had their break through. This frog’s skin was so pale that it could actually be seen through (check out the picture). What’s more, the tadpoles with these genes bore similarly transparent skin, and one could “see dramatic changes of organs when tadpoles mutate into frogs.”

Sumida’s team hopes to patent this process for making see-through frogs, claiming that the creatures would make unique and invaluable study aids, or, at the very least, good conversation pieces.

The offspring of the transparent frogs share their parents’ traits. However, as an unexpected bonus insult to the frogs, by the next generation genetics seems to catch up, and the grandchildren die shortly after birth.

So where does research go from here? “It might seem like there’s not a lot more we could do to these little guys,” says a team spokesperson. “But we like to think that as long as there are frogs still around, we’re going to try and do something weird to them. Our next project? I don’t want to get too into it, but I’ll say this: glow-in-the-dark.”

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

that's interesting....

posted on Mon, 10/01/2007 - 6:24am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I do agree that a "see through" frog would be a great educational tool for viewing basic anatomy, observing the growth of organs from tadpole to adult, and tracking fluorescent genes. The tone of the article and some of the quotes from the researching scientists seem to be joking more than I would expect - maybe to engage all audiences in a discussion - but overall this "naked frog" from seems like a great alternative to the age-old method of pithing.

posted on Mon, 10/01/2007 - 2:40pm

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