A tube-shaped animal lives in the water. It paralyzes and captures prey with a crown of tentacles, then draws it in through its mouth. A hydra is a freshwater creature that eats mostly insect and crustaceans. The appearance and eating habits of a hydra give it a sci-fi feel, but its ability to regenerate its body from only a scrap of tissue or pile of cells raises it to another level.
It is thought that it will never die unless you try to kill it or starve it to death. A hydra has regenerating abilities that allow it to replace bits of itself, so it doesn't get old or get disease. A hydra doesn't have to sweat the small stuff, like losing body parts, because of constant regeneration. Give it a few days and it will grow.
The hydra regeneration process has been taken a big step forward by Dr. Mortazavi and his colleagues. Their research was published in a journal.
The researchers looked at changes in the expression of genes throughout the course of hydra head regeneration. Epigenetic regulation controls the expression of genes. The hydra has a genome similar to that of humans, so it is thought that epigenetic regulation plays a major role in making the hydra's powers of regeneration possible.
The team discovered alterations in the regulation of enhancers. There is a chance that a related gene will be copied. The team found that the enhancers were helping to ensure the expression of many genes. The study put hydra in the same club as many other animals, including mammals.
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An almost fully developed hydra polyp is about to bud off. The University of Kansas found that hydras use different processes for regeneration and asexual reproduction.
The researchers compared the expression of genes during head regeneration and budding, a type of asexual reproduction where a hydra grows a polyp that is basically a copy of itself. The researchers found that a budding head forms in a different way than a head regrowing after injury.
The genes are increasing slowly throughout the budding head development, but in regeneration, we noticed these sharp turns, according to Aide Macias-Muoz, a developmental biologist at University of California, Santa Barbara. A lot of genes are turned on and then turned off. Even though the end result is the same, it looks like the trajectory is different.
The timing of the genes was different between head regeneration and budding. He said there was more than one way to make a head.
The evolution of enhancers is thought to have begun around 750 million years ago, when the divergence of cnidarians and bilaterians began. The National Cancer Institute's developmental biologist, who studies regeneration but was not involved in the work, sees the findings as a reminder of the importance of studying ancient creatures like hydras.
She said that they are in a good position to answer a lot of fundamental questions in developmental biology. How did you get bilateral symmetry?
This kind of work is essential for the field of regenerative medicine, where a common goal is to restore damaged tissues or whole organs.
She said that if you have a good handle on a paradigm in any animal system, you can start to think about how you might reverse engineer things in less regeneration-competent species.