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The demise of the Platonic worm

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For more content, see Nematologica.

Nematodes are generally considered to have an adult cell number that does not vary among wildtype individuals as a consequence of invariant cell lineages (eutely). However, there is extensive evidence that at least some cell lineages can be variable in nematodes. In a comparative study of 13 free-living nematode species, we have shown that the adult epidermis of most species contained variable numbers of nuclei and that this variance was positively correlated with mean epidermal nuclear number. Here we present simulations of the lateral seam cell lineages of four species and show that variance in cell number is influenced by lineage topology, as well as by the frequency of lineage variants. We show that the epidermal variability of Panagrellus redivivus cannot be accounted for by the complexity of its lineage, but requires higher levels of lineage variability than are found in Caenorhabditis elegans, Oscheius myriophila and Rhabditella octopleura. Our findings suggest that many nematodes may have tissues composed of indeterminate numbers of cells formed from variable lineages and, as such, resemble other metazoans.

Les nématodes sont généralement considérés comme ayant un nombre de cellules invariable chez les individus de type sauvage, conséquence d’un lignage cellulaire fixe (eutélie). Cependant, il est d’évidence qu’au moins certains des lignages cellulaires peuvent varier chez les nématodes. Dans une étude comparative portant sur 13 espèces de nématodes libres, nous avions montré que l’épiderme de la plupart de ces espèces comportait un nombre variable de noyaux et que cette variabilité était corrélée positivement avec le nombre de noyaux épidermiques. Nous présentons ici des simulations des lignages cellulaires de la suture latérale de quatre espèces et démontrons que le nombre de cellules est influencé tant par la topologie du lignage que par la fréquence des variants de ce lignage. Nous montrons que la variabilité de l’épiderme de Panagrellus redivivus ne peut être mise au compte de la complexité de son lignage, mais demande des niveaux élevés de variabilité de ce lignage, tels ceux trouvés chez Caenorhabditis elegans, Oscheius myriophila et Rhabditella octopleura. Nos observations suggèrent que nombre de nématodes possèdent des tissus composés d’un nombre indéterminé de cellules dérivant de lignages variables et, de ce fait, ressemblent aux autres metazoaires.


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