Xenopus laevis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Pipidae
Subfamily: Xenopodinae
Genus: Xenopus
Wagler, 1827

Xenopus amieti (Volcano Clawed Frog)
Xenopus andrei (Andre's Clawed Frog)
Xenopus borealis (Marsabit Clawed Frog)
Xenopus boumbaensis (Mawa Clawed Frog)
Xenopus clivii (Eritrea Clawed Frog)
Xenopus fraseri (Fraser's Platanna)
Xenopus gilli (Cape Platanna)
Xenopus itombwensis (Itombwe Massif Clawed Frog)
Xenopus laevis (Common Platanna)
Xenopus largeni (Largen's Clawed Frog)
Xenopus lenduensis (Lendu Plateau Clawed Frog)
Xenopus longipes (Lake Oku Clawed Frog)
Xenopus muelleri (Muller's Platanna)
Xenopus petersii (Peters' Platanna)
Xenopus pygmaeus (Bouchia Clawed Frog)
Xenopus ruwenzoriensis (Uganda Clawed Frog)
Xenopus vestitus (Kivu Clawed Frog)
Xenopus victorianus (Lake Victoria Clawed Frog)
Xenopus wittei (De Witte's Clawed Frog)

Xenopus (Gk., xeno=strange, pous=foot) is a genus of highly aquatic frogs native to Sub-Saharan Africa. There are 19 species in the Xenopus genus. They are known collectively as African Clawed Frogs or Platanna.[1] The best-known species belonging to this genus is Xenopus laevis, which is commonly studied as a model organism.


Key Characteristics


All species of Xenopus have flattened, somewhat egg-shaped and streamlined bodies, as well as very slippery skin (because of a protective mucous covering[2]). The frog's skin is smooth albeit with a lateral line sensory organ that has a stitch-like appearance. The frogs are all excellent swimmers and have powerful, fully webbed toes though the fingers lack webbing. Three of the toes on each foot have conspicuous black claws.

The frog's eyes are positioned on top of the head, looking upwards. The pupils are circular. They have no moveable eyelids, tongues (rather it is completely attached to the floor of the mouth[2]) or eardrums (similarly to the Surinam toad[3]).[4]

Internally, they are somewhat unique in that, unlike most amphibians, they have no haptoglobin in their blood.[4]


Xenopus species are entirely aquatic, though they have been witnessed to migrate on land to nearby bodies of water during times of drought. They are usually found in lakes, rivers, swamps and man-made reservoirs.[4]

Adult frogs are usually both predators and scavengers and since their tongue is unusable, the frogs use their small forelimbs to aid in the feeding process. Since they also lack a vocal sac, they make clicking sounds underwater (again similarly to the Surinam toad).[3] The Xenopus species are also active during the twilight hours (or crepuscular).[4]

During breeding season, the males have ridge-like nuptial pads (black in color) on the fingers to aid in grasping the female. The mating embrace the frogs use is inguinal, which means that the male grasps the female around her waist.[4]

Like many other anurans, they are often used in laboratory as research subjects (see section below).[2] In the Hebrew language the genus name literally means "Medical frog".[5]

Xenopus research models

Xenopus are a popular model system for gene and protein expression and knockdown studies. At 1 mm diameter, Xenopus oocytes are very large cells which are easy for scientists to culture and use in experiments. RNA from other organisms can be injected into the large oocytes and the resulting expression studied via molecular biology techniques or through electrophysiology experimentation. Gene expression can be knocked down or splicing modified using Morpholino antisense oligos injected into Xenopus oocytes (for whole-body effects) or early embryos (for effects in the daughter cells descended from the injected cell). Cytoplasmic extracts made by centrifuging Xenopus eggs or embryos (allowing direct addition or depletion of proteins) can recapitulate a wide range of complex cellular processes including nuclear envelope formation, DNA replication and spindle assembly.

While Xenopus laevis is the most commonly used species for developmental biology studies, genetic studies can be complicated by their pseudotetraploid genome. Xenopus tropicalis provides a simpler model for genetic studies, having a diploid genome. Morpholino knockdown techniques are also used in X. tropicalis to probe the function of a protein by observing the results of eliminating the protein's activity, as was done in a screen of X. tropicalis genes published in 2006.[6]

X. laevis is often used as a low-tech pregnancy test; for details, see the species account.


  1. ^ African Clawed Frog Wiki
  2. ^ a b c "IACUC Learning Module — Xenopus laevis". University of Arizona. http://www.iacuc.arizona.edu/training/xenopus/intro.html. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  3. ^ a b Roots, Clive. Nocturnal animals. Greenwood Press. pp. 19. ISBN 031333546X. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Passmore, N. I. & Carruthers, V. C. (1979). South African Frogs, p.42-43. Witwatersrand University Press, Johannesburg. ISBN 0854945253.
  5. ^ "Xenopus" (in Hebrew). Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. http://jerusalemzoo.org.il/aecommerce/c1871/17707.php. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  6. ^ Rana AA, Collart C, Gilchrist MJ, Smith JC (November 2006). "Defining synphenotype groups in Xenopus tropicalis by use of antisense morpholino oligonucleotides". PLoS Genet. 2 (11): e193. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020193. PMC 1636699. PMID 17112317. http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.0020193. 
    "A Xenopus tropicalis antisense morpholino screen". Gurdon Institute. http://www.gurdon.cam.ac.uk/~smithlab/screens/Xenopus-morpholino-pilot/. 

External links

  • Xenbase ~ A Xenopus laevis and tropicalis Web Resource

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • xénopus — [gzenɔpys] n. m. ÉTYM. 1933; lat. mod. xenopus, du grec xénos (→ Xén ), et opus (→ ope). ❖ ♦ Zool. Grenouille entièrement aquatique d Afrique du Sud (famille des Pipidés). ⇒ Dactylèthre, onychophore. 0 Le tact, qui est très développé chez les… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Xenopus — Xenopus. См. шпорцевая лягушка. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • Xenŏpus — Xenŏpus, Gattung der Kröten …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Xenopus —   [griechisch], die Gattung Krallenfrösche …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Xenopus — Xenop …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Xenopus —   Xenopus …   Wikipedia Español

  • Xenopus — Xénope Xénope …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Xenopus — Krallenfrösche Glatter Krallenfrosch (Xenopus laevis) Systematik Klasse …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Xenopus — ? Шпорцевые лягушки Обыкновенная шпорцевая лягушка Научная классификация Царство: Животные …   Википедия

  • xenopus — xen·o·pus (zĕnʹə pəs) n. Any of various aquatic, tongueless, clawed frogs of the genus Xenopus, native to southern Africa, especially X. laevis, widely used in the study of vertebrate development.   [New Latin Xenopūs, genus name : xeno + Greek… …   Universalium

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