An Axlotl tank or Axolotl tank was the "tank" by which the Bene Tleilax reproduced a living human being from the cells of a cadaver, producing type of clone called a ghola. These tanks were also used in the creation of genetically engineered assassins known as Face Dancers. The axlotl tanks were later engineered to replicate the spice melange, previously only available on the desert planet Arrakis where it was created naturally as part of the life cycle of the sandworms.
The unsuccessful Tleilaxu attempt to create artificial melange called amal (Project Amal) used axlotl technology; the best results were gained by using a Bene Gesserit sister to create an axlotl tank.
The Bene Gesserit eventually suspected that the axlotl tanks were what remained of female Tleilaxu, since no Tleilaxu females had ever been seen. Moreover, the Reverend Mother Darwi Odrade, during the time of the Honored Matres, told Tleilaxu Master Tylwyth Waff that neither she nor any of her sisters would become an axlotl tank. This remark elicited shock from the Master, a reaction that indicated that the Bene Gesserit suspicion was true. Genetic information could be coded into those bred in axlotl tanks. As a result, the resulting organisms could be bred for certain aptitudes, skills, and reflexes.
Despite the revulsion axlotl tanks caused in many groups and cultures, by the time the Honored Matres had conquered the planets of the Old Imperium, the Bene Gesserit had adopted them for the creation of gholas to further their cause. The last remaining Tleilaxu Master, Scytale, was coerced into revealing the means of creating the tanks to the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood.
Uxtal used axlotl tanks to grow gholas of Vladimir Harkonnen and Paul Atreides for Khrone. When pressured by Hellica to make spice, Uxtal explained that only a Tleilaxu master has that knowledge and since all of the masters are dead, that knowledge has been lost. Hellica then reveals that the Honored Matres kept Master Waff’s gholas alive hooked up to sperm milking machines, mirroring how the Tleilaxu used their women as axlotl tanks. From his cells, Uxtal grows multiple gholas of Waff, with the intention of re-awakening the Master’s memories, and thus the knowledge of how to grow spice from the axlotl tanks. The gholas were altered to grow at an accelerated rate and in some way, this damaged them. When the gholas were threatened with death by Hellica, only one regained his memories, while the others were murdered by Ingva. Unfortunately, his memories were fragmented, likely due to the accelerated growth alteration or the way in which he was awakened. Although he did not have knowledge of how to grow spice, he revealed to Navigator Edrik that he knew how to grow something better; he knew how to grow the sandworms themselves.
Behind the Scenes
The name refers to a variety of salamander, and is from the Nahuatl words "atl" meaning water, and "xolotl" a shortening of “xoloizcuintle” or dog, therefore meaning "water dog". Both animals are tied to the Aztec psychopomp Xolotl. Axolotls have the capability to regenerate most of their body parts.