Metamorphosis in amphibians, Biology

Metamorphosis in Amphibians

Metamorphosis is radical in anurans, slight or not exists in urodeles. In anuran amphibians like toads and most frogs, metamorphosis is generally associated with a transition from an aquatic to a terrestrial or amphibious mode of life. Occasionally though no transition in mode of life takes place as observed in the larval and adult of the frog Xenopus laevis and many primitive anurans that remain aquatic throughout their life. The change in habitat in the frogs and toads also generally results in a change in their feeding habit. In some like X laevis there is no change in food habit because both larvae and adult ale carnivorous. Some anurans go through an abbreviated type of metamorphosis before hatching, as they pass through a tailed, gilled tadpole-like stage within the jelly membrane of the egg. Others go through direct development by skipping the larval stages totally.

Metamorphosis in urodele amphibians is generally less striking. Some of them undergo direct development, while others fail to complete their metamorphosis. The latter acquire sexual maturity as larvae, as seen in the axolotl larvae of Ambystoma. This phenomenon is termed as neoteny. Some urodeles like salamanders have been observed to go through two metamorphosis. Metamorphosis in both anurans and urodeles essentially includes the activation of the genomic set underlying the adult organization, which needs for its expression a minimum mass of tissue i.e. greater than that of the egg. The activation is believed to be due to the secretion of a brain hormone that initiates metamorphosis. The hormone triggers the degeneration of redundant larval organs and growth of hitherto quiescent structures that are needed in the adult. In amphibians the process of destruction and growth are smoothly coordinated, as a result of which the animal retains its functional integrity throughout metamorphosis in place of lying dormant as in the case of insects.

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