Evo-devo of regeneration and tissue turn-over

Why some animals regenerate while others cannot is one of the elephants in the room when thinking about regeneration. The natural variation in regenerative abilities amongst planarian species provides an exciting opportunity to investigate the molecular causes of regeneration deficiencies and ultimately the evolutionary mechanisms that led to their selection. Taking advantage of the facile laboratory maintenance of planarians, we have initiated a collection of planarian species from around the globe. We currently house >50 species at the MPI-CBG and continue collecting whenever and wherever we have an opportunity. As proof-of-principle we have characterized the regeneration deficient species Dendrocoelum lacteum and found that changes in its molecular coordinate system likely account for the regeneration defect. The sheer diversity of regenerative abilities, tissue turn-over rates, life spans or general morphology in the species collection provide opportunities galore for bringing natural biodiversity to bear on answering our questions.

A number of planarian species from our collection. From left to right: Polycoelis tenuis, Planaria torva, Dendrocoelum lacteum, Schmidtea polychroa, Dugesia gonocephala, Schmidtea mediterranea and two potentially novel species from Tasmania.