The Planarian Educational Resource, Where "Cutting Class" Is Required.

Planarians are wonderful creatures that can be the superhero of your fantasies or the villian in your nightmares. Cut them into many pieces and each piece grows back into a complete worm! You might think growing an entire animal from a piece would take a long time for this inconspicuous worm to do. But you would be wrong. In fact, it takes only about two weeks for all the missing pieces to grow back to make a complete animal. Wow, a piece of a tail can grow a new head including its brain! Now all the new worms that have grown back are nearly identical clones of each other. What an amazing organism!!! These little worms are helping scientists around the world to unravel the mysteries of regeneration and can help you explore fundamental biological questions, such as growth, regrowth, aging, and even stem cell biology.



This site was created as a companion to our publication, "Hands-on, classroom studies of regeneration and stem cell biology using freshwater planarians".

A detailed explanation of the experiments that you as a teacher or a student can preform can be found in our manuscript and here. We have packed in a lot of information into both resources.  We hope you take some time to explore.



A little bit about our site to get you started.

  • We have created a collection of Tutorials to help you use the Tools on our site. These Tools and Tutorials can be found listed in the sidebar on the right.

  • The Tools will help you look for planarian gene sequences and compare them to sequences obtained from other species. 

  • We also dedicate a complete page to our main characters, four species of planarians endemic to North America that can be easily purchased and maintained in the classroom. Descriptions of these flatworms and details about their transcriptomes can be found in About our Planarians.

  • We have created a table of Primers for each of the four species utilized in the provided Protocols. You can find information about the gene function and the sequence used to generate our primers by clicking on the gene names and opening the gene page. There is a "Sequence" tab on each gene page where the mRNA, coding, and protein sequences can be found. You can use the mRNA sequence as a starting point for cloning the genes yourself. Constructs can also be ordered from Addgene.

  • We also have detailed Laboratory Protocols, which will help you to explore the world of science using planarians as your guide. The Protocols can be found in the sidebar.

  • If there are words that you do not know, check the Glossary of Terms, several technical expressions are explained in this page. If the word that you were looking for is not there? Tell us at cuttingclass@stowers.org and we can add it.

  • We also provide you with Useful Links. Here you can go to websites where you can find more information about planarians, the institutes that funded this project, and us. You will also find links to databases that are routinely used by biomedical researchers across the world.

  • There is a page of Frequently Asked Questions.  Alternatively, you may email us at cuttingclass@stowers.org with more questions.

  • Did you try our provided protocols? Did you perform any crazy experiments? Did you find an easy method for doing something? Did you collect pictures while your students were working? Would you like to share with us the results that you obtained? Please, write and tell us (cuttingclass@stowers.org) about your experiences. We would love to hear from you!!!



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