In an effort to discover the mechanism behind genetic defects that can lead to gastrointestinal disorders in humans, North Carolina State University researchers are examining tadpoles. Most tadpoles are vegetarians, but Budgett's frog tadpoles eat other animals (including their siblings), so their GI tract provides a better model for understanding the human system. "There are a significant number of birth defects in humans that involve alterations in GI-tract topology. It's possible that if we hit on these alterations as we did with these frogs, we could start to understand how you can derive such defects," says researcher Nanette Nascone-Yoder, whose work involved manipulating development of the frog GI tract.

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