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Front Zool. 2013 Oct 28;10(1):64. doi: 10.1186/1742-9994-10-64.

Posterior regeneration in Isodiametra pulchra (Acoela, Acoelomorpha).

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  • 1Department of Genetics, University of Barcelona, Av, Diagonal 643, edifici annex, planta 2a, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.



Regeneration is a widespread phenomenon in the animal kingdom, but the capacity to restore damaged or missing tissue varies greatly between different phyla and even within the same phylum. However, the distantly related Acoelomorpha and Platyhelminthes share a strikingly similar stem-cell system and regenerative capacity. Therefore, comparing the underlying mechanisms in these two phyla paves the way for an increased understanding of the evolution of this developmental process.To date, Isodiametra pulchra is the most promising candidate as a model for the Acoelomorpha, as it reproduces steadily under laboratory conditions and is amenable to various techniques, including the silencing of gene expression by RNAi. In order to provide an essential framework for future studies, we report the succession of regeneration events via the use of cytochemical, histological and microscopy techniques, and specify the total number of cells in adult individuals.


Isodiametra pulchra is not capable of regenerating a new head, but completely restores all posterior structures within 10 days. Following amputation, the wound closes via the contraction of local muscle fibres and an extension of the dorsal epidermis. Subsequently, stem cells and differentiating cells invade the wound area and form a loosely delimited blastema. After two days, the posterior end is re-patterned with the male (and occasionally the female) genital primordium being apparent. Successively, these primordia differentiate into complete copulatory organs. The size of the body and also of the male and female copulatory organs, as well as the distance between the copulatory organs, progressively increase and by nine days copulation is possible. Adult individuals with an average length of 670 μm consist of approximately 8100 cells.


Isodiametra pulchra regenerates through a combination of morphallactic and epimorphic processes. Existing structures are "re-modelled" and provide a framework onto which newly differentiating cells are added. Growth proceeds through the intercalary addition of structures, mirroring the embryonic and post-embryonic development of various organ systems. The suitability of Isodiametra pulchra for laboratory techniques, the fact that its transcriptome and genome data will soon be available, as well as its small size and low number of cells, make it a prime candidate subject for research into the cellular mechanisms that underlie regeneration in acoelomorphs.

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