A morphological and molecular investigation of appendage regeneration in the house centipede Scutigera coleoptrata


Iulia Barutia

MSc Student
Advisors: Thomas Schwaha, Oleg Simakov, 
Andy Sombke
Unit for Integrative Zoology, Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Vienna


It is no news that many arthropod taxa have the ability of regenerating appendages. This feature is often associated with anamorphic development, and is sometimes restricted only to larval, respectively nymphal stages. In most cases, the regeneration occurs progressively, over multiple molt cycles, and rarely concludes in a fully regenerated appendage. However, some arthropods are capable of so called “explosive regeneration”. The term came into use when the regeneration abilities of the house centipede Scutigera coleoptrata were documented for the first time. This species can fully regenerate all 30 legs within only one molt. As probably the most agile myriapod, S. coleoptrata can efficiently appendotomize its long, slender legs when in danger. The leg quickly regrows inside the body cavity, and emerges, fully developed, after the next molt. Our aim is to provide a detailed morphological assessment of the regeneration process, as well as a general assay of the genes involved. Using µCT scans of the developing leg in different stages, as well as histological sections and SEM imaging we will determine how “explosive” this regeneration process really is. Moreover, through transcript analysis and differential gene expression we attempt to bridge the molecular aspect of regeneration in house centipedes with already available data on limb regeneration, as well as limb development, in other arthropods.