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INTRODUCTION The phylum Platyhelminthes (flatworms) consists of

The phylum Platyhelminthes (flatworms) consists of
approximately 50,000 different species that populate a
remarkable variety of niches (Littlewood and Bray, 2001).
In addition to free-living forms, it encompasses parasitic
organisms responsible for inflicting debilitating diseases upon
hundreds of millions of people throughout the world
(see World Health Organization fact sheet 115 at
http://www.who.int/inf-fs/en/fact115.html). Platyhelminthes
are considered by many to occupy an important position in the
evolution of the Metazoa (Adoutte et al., 1999; Henry et al.,
2000; Tyler, 2001; Willmer, 1994), and the panoply of
developmental properties displayed by these organisms has
attracted the attention of generations of biologists (Newmark
and Sánchez Alvarado, 2002). For example, the ability of
freshwater planarians to regenerate completely from small
body fragments has been known for over two centuries
(Morgan, 1898; Randolph, 1897), and the life cycles of some
digenetic trematodes involve as many as three different hosts
as well as both sexual and asexual strategies for their


Source: Alvarado, Alejandro Sánchez - Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Utah
Newmark, Phillip A. - Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Collections: Biology and Medicine