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Sex-inducing effect of a hydrophilic fraction on reproductive switching in the planarian Dugesia ryukyuensis (Seriata, Tricladida)

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Author(s): Kobayashi Kazuya | Hoshi Motonori

Journal: Frontiers in Zoology
ISSN 1742-9994

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 23;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Reproductive strategy | asexual reproduction | sexual reproduction | sex-inducing substance | Dugesia ryukyuensis | planarians

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background The mechanisms underlying the switching from an asexual to a sexual mode of reproduction, and vice versa, remain unknown in metazoans. In planarians, asexual worms acquire cryptic sexuality when fed with sexual worms, indicating that sexual worms contain a sex-inducing substance. Although such a chemical compound will provide clues about the mechanisms underlying the switching, information on the sex-inducing substance is poor. In order to identify this substance, we have established an assay system for sexual induction in asexual worms of Dugesia ryukyuensis by feeding them with sexual worms. Here, we carried out an isolation study on the sex-inducing substance using this assay system. Results After centrifugation of sexual worms homogenised in saline solution, we found that not only did the precipitate have a sex-inducing effect on the asexual worms, which has been shown previously, but the cytosolic fraction did as well. We confirmed that the sex-inducing activity in the cytosolic fraction was recovered in a hydrophilic fraction separated on an octadecylsilane (ODS) column. We showed that the sex-inducing substance in the hydrophilic fraction is papain-resistant and a putative low-molecular-weight compound of less than 500. We also suggest the presence of an enhancer of sexual induction with a molecular weight (MW) of more than 5 K in the hydrophilic fraction. Conclusion Our experiments showed the existence of a sex-inducing substance and an enhancer of sex-induction in a hydrophilic fraction, and a putative hydrophobic sex-inducing substance in the precipitate. Sexual induction in the asexual worms might be triggered by additive or synergistic effects of these chemical compounds.
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