Researchers have found electrical signals in planarian flatworms (Dugesia japonica) that help cells communicate as the first step in the process of rebuilding tissue after a head or tail is lopped off, they reported March 5 in Biophysical Journal.
Scientists already knew that genes playing a role in the worms’ sprouting of new body parts turn on around six hours after an amputation. In this study, the team at Tufts University used voltage-sensitive dyes to reveal the electric potentials of cells in the worms. By manipulating the voltage pattern at the wound site, they also created a flatworm with two heads.
F. Durant et al., “The role of early bioelectric signals in the regeneration of planarian anterior/posterior polarity,” Biophysical Journal, doi:10.1016/j.bpj.2019.01.029, 2019.