Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

King Creativity at Southwestern

“Worms, Worms Everywhere!” Regenerative Capabilities of Lumbriculus variegatus

By Emily Schmidt

Lumbriculus variegates (California Blackworm) is an oligochaete, or segmented worm, that is found in shallow freshwater in the northern climates of the United States and Europe. An individual worm can consist of 250 segments, each of which can regenerate into an entirely new worm. While regeneration research is being carried out using high order vertebrates, we utilize an invertebrate model to understand the mechanisms for regeneration at a simplified level. Because of great homology and conservation of mechanisms between these invertebrate worms and vertebrates, we believe that genes and proteins, which are expressed during the processes of regeneration in Lumbriculus, can be used to help us understand the conditions necessary for regeneration in more complex systems.

My research with King Creativity funding focused on developing new techniques for labeling cell proliferation in Lumbriculus during regeneration. Adapted from work with Planaria, we successfully labeled new cell growth during regeneration with bromodeoxy-uridine (BrdU), incorporated through a food paste. Additionally, my research focused on determining what types of cells are regenerated, specifically cells utilized for neural regeneration. Utilizing BrdU, as well as a nervous system specific marker, to label the nervous system at a specific time of injury, we were able to locate and observe distribution of possible stem cells at wound site and through out the body. It is our hope that these experiments and further research will lead to a greater understanding of the cellular components and processes involved in the regenerative capabilities of Lumbriculus.