Are Planaria Individuals? What Regenerative Biology is Telling Us About the Nature of Multicellularity

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2018
Authors:Fields, C, Levin, M
Date Published:2018/03/12
ISBN Number:1934-2845
Abstract:

Freshwater planaria (Platyhelminthes, Turbellaria, Tricladida) pose a challenge to current concepts of biological individuality. We review molecular and developmental evidence suggesting that mature intact planaria are not biological individuals but their totipotent stem cells (neoblasts) are individuals. Neoblasts within a single planarian body are, in particular, genetically heterogeneous, migratory, effectively immortal, and effectively autonomous. They cooperate to maintain the planarian body as an obligate environment but compete to make this environment maximally conducive to the survival of their own neoblast lineages. These results suggest that planaria have not fully completed the transition to multicellularity, but instead represent an intermediate form in which a small number of genetically-heterogeneous, reproductively-competent cells effectively “farm” their reproductively-incompetent offspring.

URL:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11692-018-9448-9
Short Title:Evolutionary Biology
Sun, 2018-03-25 18:23 -- Ed
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