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Quantitative Analysis of Planarian Pigmentation

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Schmidtea Mediterranea

Part of the book series: Methods in Molecular Biology ((MIMB,volume 2680))


The ommochrome and porphyrin body pigments that give freshwater planarians their brown color are produced by specialized dendritic cells located just beneath the epidermis. During embryonic development and regeneration, differentiation of new pigment cells gradually darkens newly formed tissue. Conversely, prolonged light exposure ablates pigment cells through a porphyrin-based mechanism similar to the one that causes light sensitivity in rare human disorders called porphyrias. Here, we describe a novel program using image-processing algorithms to quantify relative pigment levels in live animals and apply this program to analyze changes in bodily pigmentation induced by light exposure. This tool will facilitate further characterization of genetic pathways that affect pigment cell differentiation, ommochrome and porphyrin biosynthesis, and porphyrin-based photosensitivity.

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This work was supported by New Hampshire-INBRE through an Institutional Development Award (P20GM103506) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health and by NIH 1R15DK127370-01. We thank Sarah McGregor, Mahad Ahmad, and Spencer Lynch for assistance with preliminary experiments.

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Correspondence to Jason Pellettieri .

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© 2023 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature

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Pittendreigh, M., Powers, K., Cruz, M.V., Pellettieri, J. (2023). Quantitative Analysis of Planarian Pigmentation. In: Gentile, L. (eds) Schmidtea Mediterranea. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 2680. Humana, New York, NY.

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  • Publisher Name: Humana, New York, NY

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-0716-3274-1

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-0716-3275-8

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