Regeneration: Principles


Biological regeneration, a fundamental capacity of all living things, includes processes ranging from the constitutive turnover of cellular components to the extraordinary ability of bisected hydra to become two structurally complete individuals or of salamanders to replace amputated limbs and tails. While historical debate over the nature of regeneration relied largely on its superficial similarity to embryonic development, advances in molecular biology and developmental genetics have now demonstrated a striking concordance between development and regeneration that reaches across phyla.

Keywords: epimorphic regeneration; history; principles

Figure 1.

A plate from Abraham Trembley's 1744 Mémoires showing a specimen of hydra, about 1 cm long, used in his first regeneration studies. Also illustrated are images drawn from observations of the tentacles with a hand lens.

Figure 2.

Abraham Trembley's cousin, Charles Bonnet, discovered that some worms can regenerate amputated heads and tails. These illustrations appeared in Bonnet's 1745 Traité d'insectologie.

Figure 3.

Lazzaro Spallanzani communicated his discovery of salamander limb and tail regeneration to Charles Bonnet in 1765 and 1767. Bonnet confirmed these findings and published these illustrations in Journal de Physique in 1777.


Further Reading

Dinsmore CE (ed.) (1991) A History of Regeneration Research: Milestones in the Evolution of a Science. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Ferretti P and Géraudie J (eds.) (1998) Cellular and Molecular Basis of Regeneration: From Invertebrates to Humans. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Goss RJ (1969) Principles of Regeneration. New York: Academic Press.

Lenhoff S and Lenhoff H (1986) Hydra and the Birth of Experimental Biology – 1744: Abraham Trembley's Memoirs Concerning the Natural History of the Freshwater Polyp with Arms Shaped Like Horns. Pacific Grove, CA: Boxwood Press.

Stocum DL (1995) Wound Repair, Regeneration and Artificial Tissues. Molecular Biology Intelligence Unit Series, Austin, TX: RG Landes Co.

Trembley A (1744) Mémoires, pour servir à l′histoire d′un genre de polypes d′eau douce, à bras en forme de cornes. Leide: Verbeek.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Dinsmore, Charles E(Apr 2001) Regeneration: Principles. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001112]