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Biophysical Journal


Hydra is a small freshwater polyp capable of regeneration from small tissue pieces and from aggregates of cells. During regeneration, a hollow bilayered sphere is formed that undergoes osmotically driven shape oscillations of inflation and rupture. These oscillations are necessary for successful regeneration. Eventually, the oscillating sphere breaks rotational symmetry along the future head-foot axis of the animal. Notably, the shape oscillations show an abrupt shift from large-amplitude, long-period oscillations to small-amplitude, short-period oscillations. It has been widely accepted that this shift in oscillation pattern is linked to symmetry breaking and axis formation, and current theoretical models of Hydra symmetry breaking use this assumption as a model constraint. However, a mechanistic explanation for the shift in oscillation pattern is lacking. Using in vivo manipulation and imaging, we quantified the shape oscillation dynamics and dissected the timing and triggers of the pattern shift. Our experiments demonstrate that the shift in the shape oscillation pattern in regenerating Hydra tissue pieces is caused by the formation of a functional mouth and not by shape symmetry breaking as previously assumed. Thus, model assumptions must be revised in light of these new experimental data, which can be used to constrain and validate improved theoretical models of pattern formation in Hydra.


This work is a preprint that is freely available courtesy of the Biophysical Society and Elsevier.