Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. S. Randal Voss


Unlike many amphibians, the paedomorphic axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) rarely undergoes external morphological changes indicative of metamorphosis. However, internally, some axolotl tissues undergo cryptic metamorphic changes. A previous study examined interspecific patterns of larval brain gene expression and found that these species exhibited unique temporal expression patterns that were hypothesized to be morph specific. This thesis tested this hypothesis by examining differences in brain gene expression between juvenile (JUV), paedomorphic (PAED), and metamorphic (MET) axolotls. I identified 828 genes that were expressed differently between JUV, PAED, and MET. Expression estimates from JUV were compared to estimates from PAED and MET brains to identify genes that changed significantly during development. Genes that showed statistically equivalent expression changes across MET and PAED brains provide a glimpse at aging and maturation in an amphibian. The genes that showed statistically different expression estimates between metamorphic and paedomorphic brains provide new functional insights into the maintenance and regulation of paedomorphosis. For genes that were not commonly regulated due to aging, paedomorphs exhibited greater transcriptional similarity to juvenile than metamorphs did to juvenile. Overall, gene expression differences between metamorphic and paedomorphic development exhibit a mosaic pattern of expression as a function of aging and metamorphosis in axolotls.