Unusual Labmates

Unusual Labmates is a series that explores some of the more unusual models used for research at Whitehead Institute. From rare plants to luminescent beetles to regenerative starfish and worms, these organisms and their unusual traits provide insights into the underlying biology and incredible diversity of living things.

Orange, yellow and red starfish in a glass dish.

Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) are a critically endangered species of salamander. They are also highly regenerative. Read the latest story in our Unusual Labmates series to learn more about these fascinating creatures, what Whitehead Institute researchers are hoping to discover by studying them, and why they are worth preserving in the wild.

This edition of Unusual Labmates, our series on the species used for research at Whitehead Institute, focuses on fruit flies. Fruit flies may seem like pests when they are encountered in the wild. However, they have been used in research for more than a century, and in that time, they have been engineered to become powerful, malleable models capable of answering questions in many areas of research.

This entry of Unusual Labmates features fireflies, including the American species Photinus pyralis and the Japanese species Aquatica lateralis, which graduate student Tim Fallon in Whitehead Insitute Member Jing-Ke Weng's lab is using to better understand the ability to emit light.