Planarians as invertebrate bioindicators in freshwater environmental quality: the biomarkers approach

Tanise Knakievicz


Environmental contamination has become an increasing global problem. Different scientific strategies have been developed in order to assess the impact of pollutants on aquatic ecosystems. Planarians are simple organisms with incredible regenerative capacity due to the presence of neoblastos, which are stem cells. They are easy test organisms and inexpensive to grow in the laboratory. These characteristics make planarians suitable model-organisms for studies in various fields, including ecotoxicology. This article presents an overview of biological responses measured in planarians. Nine biological responses measured in planarians were reviewed: 1) histo-cytopathological alterations in planarians; 2) Mobility or behavioral assay; 3) regeneration assay; 4) comet assay; 5) micronucleus assay; 6) chromosome aberration assay; 7) biomarkers in molecular level; 8) sexual reproduction assay; 9) asexual reproduction assay. This review also summarizes the results of ecotoxicological evaluations performed in planarians with metals in different parts of the world. All these measurement possibilities make Planarians good bioindicators. Due to this, planarians have been used to evaluate the toxic, cytotoxic, genotoxic, mutagenic, and teratogenic effects of metals, and also to evaluate the activity of anti-oxidant enzymes. Planarians are also considered excellent model organisms for the study of developmental biology and cell differentiation process of stem cells. Therefore, we conclude that these data contributes to the future establishment of standardized methods in tropical planarians with basis on internationally agreed protocols on biomarker-based monitoring programmes.

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