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July 1, 2018

The regenerative flatworm Macrostomum lignano, a model organism with high experimental potential.

Understanding the process of regeneration has been one of the longstanding scientific aims, from a fundamental biological perspective, as well as within the applied context of regenerative medicine. Because regeneration competence varies greatly between organisms, it is essential to investigate different experimental animals. The free-living marine flatworm Macrostomum lignano is a rising model organism for this type of research, and its power stems from a unique set of biological properties combined with amenability to experimental manipulation. The biological properties of interest include production of single-cell fertilized eggs, a transparent body, small size, short generation time, ease of culture, the presence…

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February 1, 2018

The axolotl genome and the evolution of key tissue formation regulators.

Salamanders serve as important tetrapod models for developmental, regeneration and evolutionary studies. An extensive molecular toolkit makes the Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) a key representative salamander for molecular investigations. Here we report the sequencing and assembly of the 32-gigabase-pair axolotl genome using an approach that combined long-read sequencing, optical mapping and development of a new genome assembler (MARVEL). We observed a size expansion of introns and intergenic regions, largely attributable to multiplication of long terminal repeat retroelements. We provide evidence that intron size in developmental genes is under constraint and that species-restricted genes may contribute to limb regeneration. The axolotl…

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February 1, 2018

The genome of Schmidtea mediterranea and the evolution of core cellular mechanisms.

The planarian Schmidtea mediterranea is an important model for stem cell research and regeneration, but adequate genome resources for this species have been lacking. Here we report a highly contiguous genome assembly of S. mediterranea, using long-read sequencing and a de novo assembler (MARVEL) enhanced for low-complexity reads. The S. mediterranea genome is highly polymorphic and repetitive, and harbours a novel class of giant retroelements. Furthermore, the genome assembly lacks a number of highly conserved genes, including critical components of the mitotic spindle assembly checkpoint, but planarians maintain checkpoint function. Our genome assembly provides a key model system resource that…

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October 6, 2015

Genome and transcriptome of the regeneration-competent flatworm, Macrostomum lignano.

The free-living flatworm, Macrostomum lignano has an impressive regenerative capacity. Following injury, it can regenerate almost an entirely new organism because of the presence of an abundant somatic stem cell population, the neoblasts. This set of unique properties makes many flatworms attractive organisms for studying the evolution of pathways involved in tissue self-renewal, cell-fate specification, and regeneration. The use of these organisms as models, however, is hampered by the lack of a well-assembled and annotated genome sequences, fundamental to modern genetic and molecular studies. Here we report the genomic sequence of M. lignano and an accompanying characterization of its transcriptome.…

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