Stem cells from innate sexual but not acquired sexual planarians have the capability to form a sexual individual

Hanae Nodono, Yugo Ishino, Motonori Hoshi, Midori Matsumoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Planarian species may harbor as many as three populations with different reproductive strategies. Animals from innate asexual (AS) and innate sexual (InS) populations reproduce only by fission and cross-fertilization, respectively, whereas the third population switches seasonally between the two reproductive modes. AS worms can be experimentally sexualized by feeding them with minced InS worms; we termed the resulting animals "acquired sexual" (AqS) worms. Both AqS and InS worms exhibit sexualizing activity when used as feed, suggesting that they maintain their sexual state via endogenous sexualizing substances, although the mechanisms underlying determination of reproductive strategy and sexual switching in these metazoans remain enigmatic. Therefore, we compared the endogenous sexualizing activity of InS worms and AqS worms. First, we amputated mature worms and assessed if they could re-enter a sexual state. Regenerants of InS worms, but not AqS worms, were only sexual, indicating that sexual state regulation comprises two steps: (1) autonomous initiation of sexualizing substance production and (2) maintenance of the sexual state by continuous production of sexualizing substances. Next, InS neoblasts were characterized by transplantation, finding that they successfully engrafted, proliferated, and replaced all recipient cells. Under such conditions, the AS recipients of InS worm neoblasts, but not those of AqS worms, became sexual. These results clearly show that there is a neoblast-autonomous determination of reproductive strategy in planarians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-766
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular reproduction and development
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Nov


  • Neoblast
  • Reproductive mode
  • Sexual reproduction
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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