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Planaria (family Planariidae) are common freshwater, non-parasitic flatworms of the phylum Platyhelminthes, class Turbellaria. It should be noted that the term "planaria" is most often used as a common name. It is also the name of a genus within the family Planariidae. It moves by beating cilia on the ventral dermis, allowing it to glide along on a film of mucus. Some move by undulations of the whole body by the contractions of muscles built into the body wall. They exhibit an extraordinary ability to regenerate lost body parts. For example, a planarian split lengthwise or crosswise will regenerate into two separate individuals ie. they can regenerate lost parts from the wounded parts. The size ranges from 3 to 12 mm, and the body has two eye-spots (also known as ocelli) that can detect the intensity of light. The eye-spots act as photoreceptors and are used to move away from light sources. Planaria have three germ layers (ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm), and are acoelomate ie. they have a solid body with no coelom (body cavity). They have a single-opening digestive tract, consisting of one anterior branch and two posterior branches in freshwater planarians. Because of this three-branched organization, freshwater flatworms are often referred to as triclad planarians. they like to live under rocks and dead trees in rivers and lakes.
Planaria are common to many parts of the world and reside in fresh water ponds and rivers. They are also commonly found residing on plants.
The most frequently used in the high school and first-year college laboratories is the brownish Dugesia tigrina. Other common varieties are the blackish Planaria maculata and Dugesia dorotocephala. Recently, however, the species Schmidtea mediterranea has emerged as the species of choice for modern molecular biological and genomic research due to its diploid chromosomes and existence in both asexual and sexual strains. Recent genetic screens utilizing double-stranded RNA technology have uncovered 240 genes that affect regeneration in S. mediterranea. Interestingly, many of these genes are found in the human genome (see link below).
Anatomy and physiology
The planarian has very simple organ systems. The digestive system consists of a mouth, pharynx, and a structure called a gastrovascular cavity. The mouth is located in the center of the underside of the body. Digestive enzymes secrete from mouth to begin external digestion. The pharynx connects the mouth to the gastrovascular cavity. This structure branches throughout the body allowing nutrients from food to reach all extremities.Campbell Reece Biology: 7th Edition They eat living or dead small animals that they suck with their muscular mouth. From there, the food passes through the pharynx into the intestines and digesting of the food takes place in the cells lining the intestine, which then diffuses to the rest of the body. Planare receive oxygen and release carbon dioxide by diffusion. The excretory system is made of many tubes with many flame cells and excretory pores on them. Flame cells remove unwanted liquids from the body by passing them through ducts that lead to excretory pores where the waste is released on the dorsal surface of the planarian. At the head of the planarian there is a ganglian under the eyespots. From the ganglian there are two nerve cords which connect at the tail. There are many transverse nerves connected to the nerve cords which make it look like a ladder. With a ladder-like nerve system, it is able to respond in a coordinated manner.
A planarian can reproduce either asexually or sexually. In asexual reproduction the planarian detaches its tail end and each half regrows the lost parts. However several problems can occur so this is not done as often. In sexual reproduction each Planaria gives and receives sperm. Planaria have both testes and ovaries. Eggs develop inside the body and are shed in capsules. Weeks later the eggs hatch and grow into adults. Planarians can also reproduce by regeneration. If a Planaria is cut into two halves, both halves may become two new Planaria (regeneration). In one experiment, T.H. Morgan found that a piece coresponding to 1/279.2764th, to be exact, of a planarian could successfully regenerate into a new worm. This size (about 10,000 cells) is typically accepted as the smallest fragment that could regrow into a new planaria
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Planarian". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|