The free-living flatworm Macrostomum lignano

Jakub Wudarski, Bernhard Egger, Steven A Ramm, Lukas Schärer, Peter Ladurner, Kira S Zadesenets, Nikolay B Rubtsov, Stijn Mouton, Eugene Berezikov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
82 Downloads (Pure)


Macrostomum lignano is a free-living flatworm that is emerging as an attractive experimental animal for research on a broad range of biological questions. One feature setting it apart from other flatworms is the successful establishment of transgenesis methods, facilitated by a steady supply of eggs in the form of single-cell zygotes that can be readily manipulated. This, in combination with the transparency of the animal and its small size, creates practical advantages for imaging and fluorescence-activated cell sorting in studies related to stem cell biology and regeneration. M. lignano can regenerate most of its body parts, including the germline, thanks to the neoblasts, which represent the flatworm stem cell system. Interestingly, neoblasts seem to have a high capacity of cellular maintenance, as M. lignano can survive up to 210 Gy of γ-irradiation, and partially offset the negative consequence of ageing. As a non-self-fertilizing simultaneous hermaphrodite that reproduces in a sexual manner, M. lignano is also used to study sexual selection and other evolutionary aspects of sexual reproduction. Work over the past several years has led to the development of molecular resources and tools, including high-quality genome and transcriptome assemblies, transcriptional profiling of the germline and somatic neoblasts, gene knockdown, and in situ hybridization. The increasingly detailed characterization of this animal has also resulted in novel research questions, such as bio-adhesion based on its adhesion-release glands and genome evolution due to its recent whole-genome duplication.[Figure not available: See fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2-Mar-2020


  • Macrostomum
  • Flatworms
  • Regeneration
  • Neoblasts
  • Transgenesis
  • Ageing
  • Re-diploidization
  • Sex allocation
  • Sexual selection
  • Bio-adhesion
  • SIZE

Cite this