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Xenopus: from tadpole to model organism

Aengus Stewart

Genome Biology 2000, 1:reports211  doi:10.1186/gb-2000-1-1-reports211

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Received:25 October 1999
Published:17 March 2000

© 2000 BioMed Central Ltd

Mirror site


Developmental biology, primarily work with the embryos of Xenopus species X. laevis and X. tropicalis, is the focus of this site. It contains a large collection of experimental protocols and very high quality images of histological stains. It also has a 'latest news' section, details of suppliers and Xenopus researchers, and movies of development. It incorporates a full site-archive search facility and is part of the WWW Virtual Library catalog. All the listed molecular markers are illustrated with images; they have a varying degree of annotation and are linked to associated references in PubMed.


The structure of the site is a simple hierarchy, with most pages available from the main page or the layer below; most of this second layer comprises large index pages. Each page has a footer menu listing the main pages. There are at least three search engines for the site to choose from, Htdig, LookSmart, and WrebGlimpse, although the last is linked only from the footer menu.

Reporter's comments


The 'What's new?' section was last updated on the 16 September 1999 and lists changes made elsewhere on the site.

Best feature

Because of the site's simple architecture, all information is available in one or two clicks, and if you still can't find what you are looking for, the plethora of search engines should help solve the problem. The images on the 'Marker' pages are of excellent quality and many of them are thumbnailed to decrease loading time.

Worst feature

The site is directed solely at those within the Xenopus community, making it difficult for non-specialists to negotiate, and the Moon lab's URL, on the front page, was a dead link.

Wish list

More background information on the project and where it is going would be useful. To this end, the site could summarize the NIH recommendations on the main page. The front page would benefit from a more structured layout of the site overview. One idea might be to link together all marker pages for a specific tissue type, and to standardize them to contain the same categories of information - such as image, image annotation, PubMed search, short information summary for marker, and sequence download. Many of the tissue-type pages only have some, rather than all, of the above.

Related websites

There are a number of sites devoted to model organisms of which Zebrafish information network and HGMP-RC Fugu project are two examples.

Table of links

Assumptions made about all sites unless otherwise specified:
The site is free, in English and no registration is required. It is relatively quick to download, can be navigated by an 'intermediate' user, and no problems with connection were found. The site does not stipulate that any particular browser be used and no special software/plug-ins are required to view the site. There are relatively few gratuitous images and each page has its own URL, allowing it to be bookmarked.