Can Worms Regenerate?

This past week I have been engrossed on certain planarians and their form of survival. I’ve hoped for it to rain for the sole fact that worms become visible so I can catch a few! In evolution class last week we discussed how worms have the ability to regenerate – if one were to capture a worm and slice his body in half separating the tail and the head, the head will glide away from the tail then over time the missing segment of the decapitated head will grow back. In cases of flatworms, you can cut them into 279 small segments and each piece will regenerate a new planarian. Cool, right?! I know!!

wormsregenerate

This is a form of asexual reproduction for flatworms, earthworms, and a few others. Needless to say this only works when the worm is divided correctly. The head portion must contain clitellum and 10 extra segments that follow the clitellum.

But wait! It gets even more intriguing: it has been tested that not only to the cells and muscle grow back but their memory stays with them. Placing a worm in a box and having them decide to go to the left or right side of the box. The left side would emit an electric shock and the right side would set them free; after placing them through multiple trials then performing asexual reproduction, it shows that the worms remember that going left would shock them.

They not only can survive when being decapitated, but also through severe climates. They have the ability to form a cocoon by burrowing deep into the soil to avoid adverse conditions – this is their form of a hibernation-like state called diapause. Planarians feed on anything from dead leaves to cardboard and sawdust! Worms may appear gross and slimy but they are extremely fascinating and harmless!

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-Lisa Bui

Sources:

http://www.livescience.com/38405-how-flatworms-regrow-their-heads.html

http://www.worm-farming.com/what-worms-eat.html

http://www.biologyjunction.com/earthworm%20facts.htm#food

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