Israeli researchers discovered that a species of the marine animal ascidian can regenerate all of its organs, even if it is dissected into three fragments, Tel Aviv University (TAU) in central Israel said on Monday.
The findings are part of a study led by TAU, in collaboration with Italy’s University of Padua, and published in the journal Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology. This animal, a member of the chordates group, is commonly found in the Red Sea’s Gulf of Eilat. The team found that this species can regenerate so that each piece knows exactly how to regain functioning of all its missing body systems within a short time, becoming three independent creatures.
The ascidians have hundreds of species, found in all the world’s oceans and seas. They often camouflage themselves as lumps on rocks and are therefore difficult to discern. The researchers dissected several dozens of ascidians into three fragments, leaving a part of the body without a nerve center, heart, and part of the digestive system. Surprisingly, not only did each part survive the dissection on its own, all the organs were regenerated in each of the three sections. “Never before has such regenerative capacity been discovered among a solitary species that reproduces sexually,” the researchers said.