General Principles of Planarian Embryogenesis and Its Analysis by In Situ Hybridization and Immunohistochemistry Methods

  • José María Martín-DuránEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1774)


Thanks to their ability to regrow any missing body part after injury, planarians have become a well-established invertebrate model system in regenerative studies. However, planarians are also unique in their embryonic development, displaying ectolecithality, or the accumulation of embryonic nutrients into accessory cells accompanying the zygotes. Gaining a better understanding of their peculiar embryogenesis can offer answers to some fundamental questions regarding the appearance and evolution of planarian regenerative capacities, and in a broader context, the diversification of embryonic and postembryonic development in animals. In this chapter, I give an overview of the present knowledge of planarian embryogenesis and the methodologies applied to its study. I describe and comment on protocols to fix and dissect planarian egg capsules, and perform whole-mount in situ hybridization and whole-mount immunohistochemistry on planarian embryos.

Key words

Planarian Embryogenesis Embryo Development In situ hybridization Immunohistochemistry Regeneration 



I thank the former and present members of Rafael Romero’s lab, whose work and dedication were crucial to establish planarian embryos as a tractable molecular research system. Special thanks to Rafael Romero, whose unorthodoxy took him to planarian embryos, and somehow guided us throughout a wondrous journey. I thank Kevin Pang for critically reading the manuscript, and Andreas Hejnol and the Sars Centre (UiB) for their support. This work is supported by the Marie Curie IEF fellowship 329024.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular BiologyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.School of Biological and Chemical SciencesQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUnited Kingdom

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