|My favorite animal, Trichoplax adhaerens|
Schierwater, B. (2005). My favorite animal, Trichoplax adhaerens. BioEssays 27(12): 1294-1302
In: BioEssays. John Wiley & Sons. ISSN 0265-9247, more
Trichoplax adhaerens is more simply organized than any other living metazoan. This tiny marine animal looks like a irregular hairy plate (tricho plax) with a simple upper and lower epithelium and some loose cells in between. After its original description by F.E. Schulze 1883, it attracted particular attention as a potential candidate representing the basic and ancestral state of metazoan organization. The lack of any kind of symmetry, organs, nerve cells, muscle cells, basal lamina and extracellular matrix originally left little doubt about the basal position of T. adhaerens. Nevertheless, the interest of zoologists and evolutionary biologists suddenly vanished for more than half a century when Trichoplax was claimed to be an aberrant hydrozoan planula larva. Recently, Trichoplax has been rediscovered as a key species for unraveling early metazoan evolution. For example, research on regulatory genes and whole genome sequencing promise insights into the genetics underlying the origin and development of basal metazoan phyla. Trichoplax offers unique potential for understanding the minimal requirements of metazoan animal organization.