Animal regeneration: Ancestral character or evolutionary novelty?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (SciVal)
82 Downloads (Pure)


An old question about regeneration is whether it is an ancestral character which is a general property of living matter, or whether it represents a set of specific adaptations to the different circumstances faced by different types of animal. In this review, some recent results on regeneration are assessed to see if they can throw any new light on this question. Evidence in favour of an ancestral character comes from the role of Wnt and bone morphogenetic protein signalling in controlling the pattern of whole-body regeneration in acoels, which are a basal group of bilaterian animals. On the other hand, there is some evidence for adaptive acquisition or maintenance of the regeneration of appendages based on the occurrence of severe non-lethal predation, the existence of some novel genes in regenerating organisms, and differences at the molecular level between apparently similar forms of regeneration. It is tentatively concluded that whole-body regeneration is an ancestral character although has been lost from most animal lineages. Appendage regeneration is more likely to represent a derived character resulting from many specific adaptations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1497-1508
JournalEMBO Reports
Issue number9
Early online date26 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Adaptation
  • Bone morphogenetic protein
  • Regeneration
  • Wnt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Animal regeneration: Ancestral character or evolutionary novelty?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this