Flatworm infestations are a bane to reefkeepers. Once our tanks are infested, flatworms are very hard to get rid of even with medicated treatments to kill them off. The reason is their ease in reproduction and regeneration. If you were to cut a flatworm in half, two adults would regenerate from the split tissue.
Scientists wanted to see how far they could push this amazing regenerative ability of flatworms and in this week’s issue of Science, they reported their findings in their paper Clonogenic Neoblasts Are Pluripotent Adult Stem Cells That Underlie Planarian Regeneration.
In the lab they gave flatworms a lethal dose of radiation and then implanted a single special cell called a c-Neoblast from a healthy donor adult flatworm into the tail end of the dying flatworm. Within a week they found healthy adult tissue growing throughout the dying flatworm. Within two weeks a completely new adult emerged – like a phoenix from the ashes:
Remember that the next time you’re trying to get rid of these pests.
(via Discover Magazine)