Researchers at the University of Utah have figured out a way to inhibit the function of the planarian genome to create a wide range of phenotypes. Their study, appearing in the May issue of
The study "changes things because it effectively makes an animal that was not accessible to genetic studies accessible," lead author Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado told
The planarian is capable of regrowth due to the pluripotency of its neoblasts. Even a fraction of the worm is capable of regenerating into an entirely new organism. However, because the organism does not reproduce sexually, it cannot be studied using traditional genetic techniques.
The team circumvented the problem using bacterial-fed RNA...