A novel flatworm-specific gene implicated in reproduction in Macrostomum lignano

16 February 2018

This study by the Berezikov Group describes a novel direction for flatworm research. Flatworms are mainly known for being able to regenerate their complete body, including the germline. This is enabled by a population of stem cells, called neoblasts. Traditionally, molecular flatworm research focuses on genes which are broadly conserved. This study indicates the importance of studying flatworm-specific genes to truly understand what makes flatworms unique. As an illustration, the function of a previously uncharacterized gene specific for free-living flatworms is investigated by using the model organism Macrostomum lignano. The paper demonstrates that this gene, called Mlig-Sperm1, is expressed in the testes and is essential for the development of healthy sperm and for fertility. To enable this study, the M. lignano transcriptome assembly was improved, and previously published data were reanalyzed. In addition, a whole-animal electron microscopy atlas (nanotomy) was obtained. These important resources are described in the paper.



Grudniewska M.*, Mouton S.*, Grelling M., Wolters A.H.G., Kuipers J. Giepmans B.N.G., Berezikov E. (2018). A novel flatworm-specific gene implicated in reproduction in Macrostomum lignano. Scientific Reports 8, 3192.

* Contributed equally to this work.


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