The laboratory opossum, Monodelphis domestica, as an experimental system
Monodelphis domestica is proving to be a useful laboratory animal for the study of embryonic development, reproductive biology, and mammalian evolution at the molecular-genetic, cellular and organismal levels. The genome of this New World metatherian mammal has been characterized and is well known. Laboratory-colony maintenance is no more labor-intensive than for other lab animals. The lab opossum breeds year-round and averages 16 embryos (maximum 13 fetuses) per 14.5-day pregnancy. The most distinctive feature of embryogenesis in this and other metatherian mammals relates to much of fetal development occurring exo utero. Thus, its use for investigations related to mammalian embryology complements what is otherwise learned from studies of eutherian lab mammals, mostly the laboratory mouse.
Cruz, Yolanda. 2017. "The laboratory opossum, Monodelphis domestica, as an experimental system." Mechanisms of Development 145: S102.
Mechanisms of Development