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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2003 Aug;13(4):331-40.

Emerging systems: between vertebrates and arthropods, the Lophotrochozoa.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Meyerhofstrasse 1, 69012, Heidelberg, Germany.


Novel molecular model organisms for the study of development and regeneration are emerging among the Lophotrochozoa, the third major branch of bilaterian animals. The polychaete Platynereis, the leech Helobdella, the snail Ilyanassa, and several planarians are efficiently accessed for molecular techniques including large-scale whole-mount in situ hybridization screening, RNA interference or morpholino knock-down. Joint efforts include the generation of genomic resources in the form of expressed sequence tag collections and bacterial artificial chromosome libraries. Current research focuses on early pattern formation during cleavage, the emergence and diversification of body segments, and the formation of photoreceptor cells and eyes. Several lophotrochozoan groups (in particular nereid polychaetes) exhibit modes of development, organ design, or body plans that are considered ancestral in many respects. This is also reflected in the level of genes, making these groups ideally suited for developmental comparative studies.

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