Effects of cadmium and mercury exposure on regeneration, stem cell dynamics and redox status in the free-living flatworm Macrostomum sp. (Macrostomida)


In this research proposal three actual “hot topics” are addressed, to which we want to contribute to a better knowledge:
1.    pollution problems caused by heavy metals, (what are the effects and how can they be monitored?);
2.    role and behaviour of stem cells;
3.    role of oxidative stress in animals.
Our understanding of these three topics has made tremendous progresses in the last decade, and modern, original techniques have been introduced. As far as we know, nor the topics, nor the techniques involved, have been used in conjunction with each other.
The choice of Macrostomum sp. as the model organism is fundamental. Flatworms are the only animals in which mitoses are restricted to the stem cells (neoblasts), making it possible to follow the processes stem cells undergo in various circumstances, determinate their turnover and see what happens during their differentiation into somatic cells. Our findings may lead towards hypotheses on what happens with stem cells in other animals.
Many flatworms have a high capacity to regenerate. However, this process has almost exclusively been studied in the (larger) planarians. Be it that the influence of heavy metals on planarians has also been studied, data on the influence on their regeneration is very scant, and effects on the cellular level are virtually missing.
The small size and the transparency of Macrostomum sp. make the study of the whole animal under the microscope possible. Various histochemical techniques, fluorescence techniques and confocal microscopy can be applied not only to follow the fate of the neoblasts, but also to study cellular processes such as the oxidative status.


Regeneration, stem cells, flatworm, heavy metals, Cd, Hg


Name Role Start End
Artois, Tom promotor 2005-10-01 2009-10-01
Schockaert, Ernest co-promotor 2005-10-01 2009-10-01
Cuypers, Ann co-promotor 2005-10-01 2009-10-01
Vangronsveld, Jaco co-promotor 2005-10-01 2009-10-01


Name Role Start End
Biodiversity, Phylogeny and Population studies member 2005-10-01 2009-10-01

created:2011-12-14 14:18:59 UTC, source:web

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