Preface: the hydra model system.

  • publication
  • 03-08-2012

Galliot B. Int. J. Dev. Biol. 2012 ;56(6-8):407-9. 120094bg. 10.1387/ijdb.120094bg.

The freshwater Hydra polyp emerged as a model system in 1741 when Abraham Trembley not only discovered its amazing regenerative potential, but also demonstrated that experimental manipulations pave the way to research in biology. Since then, Hydra flourished as a potent and fruitful model system to help answer questions linked to cell and developmental biology, as such as the setting up of an organizer to regenerate a complex missing structure, the establishment and maintainance of polarity in a multicellular organism, the development of mathematical models to explain the robust developmental rules observed in this animal, the maintainance of stemness and multipotency in a highly dynamic environment, the plasticity of differentiated cells, to name but a few. However the Hydra model system is not restricted to cell and developmental biology; during the past 270 years it has also been heavily used to investigate the relationships between Hydra and its environment, opening new horizons concerning neurophysiology, innate immunity, ecosystems, ecotoxicology, symbiosis...

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