General, Research, Technology

The world's first animal discovered that does not need oxygen to survive

Researchers have discovered the only thing in the animal that does not need oxygen to survive. It turned out to be a common salmon parasite. A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that the parasite Henneguya salminicola does not need breathing to survive - it is a revelation that can change the way we understand life on Earth and beyond. The authors of the study write that a multicellular organism, which is part of a group of animals closely associated with jellyfish, known as Myxozoa, does not breathe at all and does not have mitochondrial DNA. But how is this possible?

It looks like Henneguya salminicola

Unique organism

This is the first multicellular animal the wild, in the DNA of which there are no genes responsible for respiration. According to the results, the parasite has lost "the ability to perform aerobic cellular respiration." Earlier in a 2010 study, scientists suggested that the species of lorifer, another microscopic animal, could survive without oxygen, although, according to the BBC, this finding has not been fully confirmed.

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No matter how surprising it seems to usdiscovery, Henneguya salminicola is a fairly common organism that parasitizes salmonids and provokes diseases in them. Some diseases lead to the appearance of ugly cysts on salmon meat, but, as a rule, are harmless to humans and the fish itself. Because Henneguya salminicola is a parasite inside the fish, this tiny creature has evolved to survive under conditions in which oxygen supply is irregular. According to the authors of the study, almost all multicellular organisms, including plants and fungi, cannot survive without oxygen. And during evolution, Henneguya salminicola not only lost some of the genes that are directly related to aerobic respiration, but also invented a method of oxygen-free breakdown of essential nutrients.

This is what the meat of a salmon infected by Henneguya salminicola looks like.

As co-author told Live ScienceResearch by Dorothy Yushon, an evolutionary biologist at Tel Aviv University, these tiny parasites have lost tissue, nerve cells, muscles, and everything else, including their ability to breathe. To date, the question of how Henneguya salminicola manages to survive without oxygen remains open. Researchers believe that the parasite can draw energy from its host.

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The whole set of genes that are associated with workmitochondria in DNA — organelles the size of a bacterium — are completely absent in the parasite Henneguya salminicola. Instead, the animal relies on a chain of genes, thanks to which it is able to break down necessary sugars without enzymes from mitochondria, as is usually the case in other organisms. However, how exactly the metabolism of this truly unique organism works, scientists have yet to learn.

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Researchers have discovered that during its evolutionary process, the animal was able to survive by eliminating genes associated with oxygen respiration.

And yet, something interesting about Henneguyascientists can tell salminicola today. So, the set of genes revealed in the parasite is unique - it is completely different from those DNA chains that are characteristic of eukaryotes - the kind of organisms that consist of several cells - and other organisms that do not need oxygen. Scientists hope that further study of the salmon parasite will not only create drugs that can rid the fish of parasites, but also help us learn more about life forms that are completely unfamiliar to us.

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