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Gabriel Giacoppo

Science 7
Period 3
May 6, 2014

PROBLEM: If trisected, which piece of a planaria will regenerate first, the anterior,
mid section or posterior?

HYPOTHESIS: If a planaria is trisected, then the mid section of the planaria will
regenerate first.

1.) Planaria are in the flatworm family, and they reproduce both sexually and
asexually. Planaria that reproduce sexually are hermaphrodites, which means that
they have both male and female reproductive parts, such as the male gonads and
female ovaries, used in the reproduction process. Sexual planaria reproduce by
combining the gametes of two planaria. One gamete transports the sperm to the
other gamete that receives it. Eggs develop inside the body of the planaria, then the
eggs drop off in capsules and hatch outside the body. The new planaria will be
genetically diverse organisms.

2.) Some species of planaria are only asexual and do not develop sex organs, while
other species are both sexual and asexual. Asexual reproduction is very specific,
and there are important factors such as food, climate, temperature, and time of year
that affect when the process will occur. The planaria can reproduce properly and
most effectively under the correct climate conditions. There are two types of asexual
reproduction in planaria: fragmentation and tail dropping. During the tail
dropping process the posterior (tail end) detaches itself from the anterior (head
end) forming two separate planaria halves. The halves then regenerate (discussed
below) the missing ends, forming two distinct new organisms. This process can
happen only when temperatures are above 10 degrees C, creating a frequency of
division at about 25 to 28 degrees C. The fragmentation process is similar to tail
dropping, but the planaria separates itself into many pieces rather than two halves,
forming distinct new planaria. The planaria produced during asexual reproduction
are genetically identical or clones or each other.

3.) Planaria have the incredible ability to regenerate their own bodies through a
process using neoblasts which are undifferentiated stem cells. They do this by
filling in the wound that was cut with the neoblasts. Just like in a plant, the
neoblast stem cells are designed so that they can become any cell type that is
necessary. Therefore, planaria have neoblasts in their bodies so that when they are
cut the neoblasts can clot and adapt to the type of body part that connects the other
parts that were cut away, and then over time form an entirely new worm. This
process is called cell migration. Neoblasts are totipotent, which is the scientific
word for their ability to clot the wound and regenerate. Cell differentiation is the
specific process a neoblast would take in order to clot a wound in a planaria. After it
has split, the planaria must establish polarity, which is that each part must
regenerate the correct part in order to form a new planaria successfully. The
regeneration process must take a lot of energy and nutrition to build new cell
growth. Since the pharynx is located in the mid section, I believe that the planaria
will continue to ingest food, which will help speed the growth process at each end.
Also, in the mid section, regeneration is working at both cut ends at the same time,
with each cut end growing a shorter section. The posterior and anterior sections,
however, must grow the missing two thirds from one wound. Therefore, I
hypothesized that when a planaria is trisected, the mid section will regenerate



In this lab, we trisected a planaria in order to find out which part would
regenerate the fastest, the anterior, mid section, or posterior. I hypothesized that the
mid section of the planaria would regenerate the fastest, because it was the center of
the planaria and held the body together. At first, that anterior seemed to be moving
the most. However, by day three, the mid section was the longest piece, although a
layer of ghost cells surrounded both ends. By the fifth day, eyespots had faintly
started to appear, and there were only a small amount of ghost cells located on the
Anterior Midsection Posterior



Fastest Regeneration
Planaria Regeneration 2014
7th grade
3rd period
anterior and posterior. By the last day, the mid section planaria was complete, while
the anterior still hadnt completed the tail. (Note: On the sixth day, our posterior
planaria had gone missing; however, it had been considerably lagging the last two
sections previously.) This held the same in our 3
period class, where 23% of the
posterior and 23% of the anterior had regenerated, whereas the mid section had a
54% regeneration rate. This trend also held for the majority of the 7
grade classes.
There was 37% regeneration for the anterior, and a 14% regeneration of the
posterior for the entire 7
grade, and 49% of the mid sections had regenerated the
fastest. Only the Period 4 and 6 classes found otherwise, with the anterior sections
growing fastest with each at 58%. I hypothesized that when trisected, a planaria
would regenerate the fastest from its mid section.


1.) The data from our own experiment, the 3
period class, and the entire 7
showed that the majority of mid section planaria regenerated first. This supports
that my hypothesis was correct: most planaria had regenerated ghost cells faster in
the mid section. However, there were ways in which the experiment was difficult to
control and could be improved. One such factor was the process of observing the
planaria and recording growth via sketches. It was challenging to record the amount
of growth and ghost cells on the planaria and be exactly accurate; therefore, some of
the data could have been recorded wrong. It was difficult to sketch them accurately,
and therefore, there could have been more or less ghost cells on one piece as
compared to another. In addition, since our posterior planaria vanished on the last
day, we were not able to record its final stage of growth. It was also difficult to cut
the planaria into equal lengths. It is possible that cut length was a factor in
regeneration time. Next time, a ruler or other measuring tool could be used to help
cut the planaria into pieces that were proportional, so that cut lengths would not
have interfered with the growth rate.

2.) The stem cells in humans differ in several ways from the neoblasts in planaria.
For instance, planaria neoblasts are totipotent, while some cells in our human body
are pluripotent. Totipotent means that the cells are undifferentiated and can
regenerate as any cell in the entire body, whereas, pluripotent stem cells can only
regenerate as specialized cells in specific areas of the body. For example, when cut
in any area, a planaria will regenerate in any area that has been severed. However,
in organisms such as humans, stem cells are only undifferentiated during the
embryonic stage and only specific stem cells, called niches can help regenerate parts
of the body in that area, such as brain cells, hair cells, blood cells, intestinal cells, and
bone cells. Pluripotent stem cells, or niches, can only do this in a certain area.
Despite these differences, both the stem cells in humans and the neoblasts in
planaria share some factors in common. Both types of cells function as stem cells,
and under certain circumstances (i.e. embryonic stem cells in humans) both cells are
undifferentiated. In addition, both human stem cells and neoblasts respond to
signals. For example, in humans when niches need to become specialized, they
receive signals that can adapt to that area that needs repair. These signals activate
traits in the stem cells that are the same as the rest. Similarly, neoblasts receive
signals when they are needed to regenerate a part of the planarias body. Therefore,
both totipotent and pluripotent stem cells receive stem cell signals that tell them
when they need to perform a certain function.

3.) Embryonic stem cells have the unique ability to transform into any cell in the
human body that is desired. These stem cells have been used to treat leukemia,
other types of cancer, spinal injuries and even some genetic disorders. The use of
embryonic stem cells has been very controversial among many religions because it
involves the creation, use and destruction of human embryos. Many people believe
that an embryo is a human life, and therefore find its destruction to be similar to
murder. Currently, there is less controversy over stem cell research than in past
years. This is because scientists have discovered new techniques for mimicking
embryonic stem cells that do not threaten or destroy human embryos. For example,
scientists have learned how to stimulate a patient's own cells to behave like human
embryonic stem cells or hES. This amazing technique is reducing the need for
human embryos because the hES can be used the way stems cells were used in the
past. Scientists are also using induced pluripotent stem cells or IPS, which do not
come from embryos but from adult stem cells so their use does not raise the concern
of destroying embryos. IPS stem cells are created when new genes are inserted into
a somatic stem cell in order to create artificial stem cells. In addition, scientists have
begun to use STAP or stimulus triggered acquisition of pluripotency, which is a
technique capable of generating pluripotent stem cells by subjecting ordinary cells
to certain types of stress. STAP is when somatic stem cells are exposed to measures
such as an acid bath, or simple stimulus, in order to transform them into artificial
stem cells. These artificial stem cells function similar to embryonic stem cells
because they can become any cell in the human body. As these and additional
techniques for obtaining undifferentiated stem cells that do not threaten human
embryos evolve, the research will continue to become less controversial. Scientists
will be free to pursue these life saving and life changing therapies without ethical or
moral concerns.


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What Are Stem Cells? - Craig A. Kohn." YouTube. YouTube, 10 Sept. 2013.
Web. 05 May 2014.