They discover an animal that regenerates even if it breaks into three pieces


The ability to regenerate organs is common in the animal kingdom, but in this case, they have the ability to do so in their entire body system.

Polycarpa mytiligera, the study sea squirt TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY

Researchers from Tel Aviv University found a sea squirt of the species Polycarpa mytiligera , a creature from the Red Sea , capable of regenerating all its organs, even if it is cut into three pieces.

"It is an amazing discovery , since it is an animal that belongs to the Chordata phylum, animals with a dorsal cord, which also includes humans," explained Professor Noa Shenkar, from the School of Zoology at Tel Aviv University. , who led the investigation.


“The ability to regenerate organs is common in the animal kingdom , and even among chordates you can find organ-regenerating animals, such as the gecko, that can grow a new tail. But not entire body systems. Here we find a chordate that can regenerate all its organs even if it is separated into three parts, and each of them knows exactly how to restore the functioning of all its missing body systems in a short period of time ”.

There are hundreds of species of sea squirts and they are found in all the world's oceans and seas. Anyone who has opened their eyes underwater has unknowingly seen sea squirts, as they are often camouflaged as lumps on rocks and are therefore difficult to discern. The animal object of this new study is a sea squirt of the species Polycarpa mytiligera , very common in the coral reefs of the Gulf of Eilat. The study was published in Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology .

Tal Gordon diving and researching this strange animal
Tal Gordon diving and researching this strange animalTal Zaquin

"By all accounts, the sea squirt is a simple organism, with two openings in its body: an entrance and an exit, " said Tal Gordon, whose doctoral thesis included this new research. “Inside the body there is a central organ that resembles a pasta strainer. Sea squirts suck water through the body's entry point, the strainer filters food particles left in the body, and clean water exits through the exit point. Among invertebrates, they are considered to be the closest to humans from an evolutionary point of view ”.

Sea squirts are famous for their regenerative ability, but until now these abilities have been primarily identified in asexual reproduction. Never before has such a high regenerative capacity been detected in a chordate animal that reproduces only through sexual reproduction.


Previous studies have shown that this species is capable of regenerating its digestive system and its entry and exit points within a few days. But they wanted to see if it is capable of renewing all its body systems. The researchers took some individual sea squirts from Eilat and dissected them into two parts, which were able to replace the extracted sections without any problem.

In a later experiment, they dissected several dozen sea squirts into three fragments, leaving one part of the body without a nerve center, heart, and part of the digestive system. And contrary to expectations, not only did each part survive the dissection on its own, all the organs regenerated in each of the three sections. Instead of one sea squirt, there were now three. This is very amazing. Never before has such regenerative capacity been discovered among a solitary species that reproduces sexually, anywhere in the world.


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