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The assembly of genome sequences for the flatworm Schmidtea mediterranea and the salamander Ambystoma mexicanum will provide insights into the remarkable regenerative characteristics of these two organisms.
Although humans have a limited ability to regenerate after injury, other animals can perform extraordinary regenerative feats. Small flatworms called planarians can regrow their entire bodies, even after being minced into hundreds of pieces. Many species of salamander can regrow whole limbs. For centuries, researchers have sought to understand these abilities, the instructions for which are encoded in DNA. In two papers online in Nature, Grohme et al.1 and Nowoshilow et al.2 respectively report the genomes of a planarian (Schmidtea mediterranea) and a salamander, the axolotl (Ambystomamexicanum). These studies mark a crucial step towards understanding regeneration.