Planarians have a remarkable capacity for regeneration after ablation, and they reproduce asexually by fission. However, some planarians can also reproduce and maintain their sexual organs. During the regenerative process, their existing sexual organs degenerate and new ones develop. However, little is known about hormonal regulation during the development of reproductive organs in planarians. In this study, we investigated the effects of 17β-estradiol (a steroid) and bisphenol A (an endocrine disrupter) on the formation of sexual organs in the hermaphroditic planarian Dugesia ryukyuensis. Under control conditions, all worm tissues regenerated into sexual planarians with sexual organs within 4 weeks after ablation. However, in the presence of bisphenol A or 17β-estradiol, although they apparently regenerated into sexual planarians, the yolk glands, which are one of the female sexual organs, failed to regenerate even 7 weeks after ablation. These data suggest that planarians have a steroid hormone system, which plays a key role in the formation and maturation of sexual organs.
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