Jochen Rink

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Restoring symmetry- midline regeneration in planarians



Development is generally credited with the establishment of form and function of the adult body. However, regeneration is similarly capable of forming adult body parts, which in the case of planarian flatworms can entail the regeneration of complete and perfectly proportioned individuals from random tissue pieces. While the starting point of development is the invariant environment of the fertilised egg, regeneration initiates from the entirely unpredictable remnants of injuries. How regeneration nevertheless succeeds in converging on the precise target morphology of the species-specific body plan constitutes a deeply fascinating problem. Our approach focuses on understanding how individual patterning pathways define the self-organising molecular coordinate system of the planarian body plan. I will discuss recent efforts aimed at understanding the principles and mechanisms by which asymmetric tissue pieces regenerate and position the midline as defining feature of bilaterian body plans.


Jochen Rink holds a degree in natural sciences from the University of Cambridge, UK. He did his PhD with Marino Zerial at The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany. Thereafter, he carried out postdoctoral research in the lab of Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA. Since 2011 he heads an independent Max Planck Research Group at the MPI-CBG in Dresden. His group studies the fascinating regenerative abilities of planarians and the inter-species variations of the trait as model system for the emergence of shape and size in biological systems.