The researchers found the world’s only animal that doesn’t need oxygen for survival. It appeared to be a common parasite of salmon. A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that the parasite Henneguya salminicola does not require breathing to survive is a revelation that can change the way we understand life on Earth and beyond. The study’s authors write that a multicellular organism, which is part of a group of animals closely related to jellyfish, known as Myxozoa, does not breathe and has no mitochondrial DNA. But how is this possible?
This is the first multicellular animal found in the wild in the DNA where no genes responsible for respiration. According to the results, the parasite lost “the ability to perform aerobic cellular respiration.” Earlier in the 2010 study, scientists have suggested that kind of loricifera, other microscopic animals that can survive without oxygen, though, according to the BBC, the discovery was not fully confirmed.
What would be surprising not seemed to us this discovery, Henneguya salminicola is a fairly common organism, a parasite on salmon and provocative of the disease. Some diseases lead to the appearance of unsightly cysts in the meat of salmon, but usually harmless to humans and most fish. As Henneguya salminicola is a parasite inside the fish, this tiny creature have evolved to survive in conditions in which oxygen supply is irregular. As the authors of the study, virtually all multicellular organisms, including plants and fungi, cannot survive without oxygen. And Henneguya salminicola in the course of evolution not only lost some genes that are directly related to aerobic respiration, but also invented a method of oxygen-free breakdown of essential nutrients.
According to the publication Live Science study co-author Dorota Uson, an evolutionary biologist from the University of tel Aviv, these tiny parasites lost tissue, nerve cells, muscles and everything else, including the ability to breathe. To date, the question of how Henneguya salminicola have been able to survive without oxygen remains, Researchers believe that the parasite could draw energy from his master.
The whole set of genes associated with mitochondrial function in the DNA — organelles, the size of a bacterium and the parasite Henneguya salminicola is completely absent. Instead, the animal relies on a chain of genes, by which he is able to split the required sugar without enzymes from mitochondria as it does in other organisms. However, how exactly does the metabolism of this truly unique organism, scientists have yet to learn.