Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Controversial worm keeps its position as progenitor of humankind

Date:
March 27, 2013
Source:
University of Gothenburg
Summary:
Researchers are arguing about whether or not the Xenoturbella bocki worm is the progenitor of humankind. But new studies indicate that this is actually the case.

Xenoturbella bocki worm.
Credit: Hiroaki Nakano

Researchers are arguing about whether or not the Xenoturbella bocki worm is the progenitor of humankind. But new studies indicate that this is actually the case.

Swedish researchers from the University of Gothenburg and the Gothenburg Natural History Museum are involved in the international study. The results have been published in Nature Communications.

The Xenoturbella bocki worm is a one-centimetre long worm with a simple body plan that is only found regularly by the west coast of Sweden. The worm lacks a brain, sexual organs and other vital organs.

Zoologists have long disagreed about whether or not the Xenoturbella bocki worm holds a key position in the animal tree of life. If it does have a key position, it is very important for the understanding of the evolutionary development of organs and cell functions, such as stem cells, for example. The question is therefore not only important in the field of biology, but also for potential biomedical applications.

"It's absolutely fantastic that one of the key evolutionary organisms in the animal kingdom lives right on the doorstep of the University of Gothenburg's Centre for Marine Research. And this is actually the only place in the whole world where you can do research on the creature," says Matthias Obst from the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg.

Genetic studies indicate that the Xenoturbella bocki worm belongs to the group of deuterostomes, the exclusive group to which human's belongs.

"So maybe we're more closely related to the Xenoturbella bocki worm, which doesn't have a brain, than we are to lobsters and flies, for example," says Matthias Obst.

Even though the worm does not particularly resemble man, development biologists have referred to the fact that the early embryonic development of the worm may display similarities with the group to which man belongs. But the problem has been that no one has previously been able to see the development of the creature.

But now a group of researchers at the Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences and the Gothenburg Natural History Museum have succeeded in doing what no one else has done before: to isolate newly born little Xenoturbella bocki worms.

"And these new-born worms revealed absolutely no remnants at all of advanced features! Instead, they exhibit similarities with quite simple, ancient animals such as corals and sponges," says Matthias Obst.

The studies also reveal the value of the University of Gothenburg's marine stations for important basic research.

"The Lovén Centre at the University of Gothenburg is the only place in the whole world where you can study this paradoxical animal (in Swedish called 'Paradox worm'). That's one reason why researchers come from all over the world to Gullmarsfjorden to solve one of the great mysteries in the evolution of animal life," says Matthias Obst.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Gothenburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hiroaki Nakano, Kennet Lundin, Sarah J. Bourlat, Maximilian J. Telford, Peter Funch, Jens R. Nyengaard, Matthias Obst, Michael C. Thorndyke. Xenoturbella bocki exhibits direct development with similarities to Acoelomorpha. Nature Communications, 2013; 4: 1537 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2556

Cite This Page:

University of Gothenburg. "Controversial worm keeps its position as progenitor of humankind." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327103039.htm>.
University of Gothenburg. (2013, March 27). Controversial worm keeps its position as progenitor of humankind. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327103039.htm
University of Gothenburg. "Controversial worm keeps its position as progenitor of humankind." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327103039.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) — With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) — Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins