Scientists have found a new way to manipulate the direction of snail shell coiling, altering the animal's left-right asymmetry. The research, published linkurl:online;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/index.html today (November 25) in Nature, may offer clues as to how "handedness" develops in invertebrates, which could improve scientists' understanding of the mechanics that drive cell regeneration and embryonic development.
"This paper illustrates how chirality" -- the inability of a structure to be superimposed on its mirror image -- "arises," said linkurl:Michael Levin,;http://ase.tufts.edu/faculty-guide/fac/mlevin11.biology.htm a developmental biologist at Tufts University, who was not involved in the study. This new research, he said, shows that snails are a useful way to track early embryonic-stage signaling for handedness. The left-right asymmetry of an animal's internal organs and physical appearance are important evolutionary traits that often make tasks easier, such as an owl's unbalanced ears for better hearing, but researchers...
shells of L. stagnalis
Image: Kuroda laboratory
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