Scientists Have Found An Animal That Doesn’t Need Oxygen To Survive
Some truths about the Universe and our experience in it seem immutable. Sky is up, gravity sucks, nothing can travel faster than light. Multicellular life (animal,fungi, algae and land plants) needs oxygen to survive. Except we’d got to rethink that last one.
Scientists have just discovered that a Jellyfish like parasite does not have a mitochondrial genome the primary multicellular organism known to possess this absence. Means it does not breathe; actually, it lives its life completely free from oxygen dependency.
This discovery is not just changing our understanding of how life can work here on Earth it could have implications for the look for extraterrestrial life.
Life began to develop the power to metabolise oxygen that’s, respirate – sometime over 1.45 billion years ago. A bigger Archaeon engulfed a smaller bacterium, and somehow the bacterium’s new home was beneficial to both parties, and therefore the two stayed together. That symbiotic relationship resulted within the two organisms evolving together, and eventually those bacteria settle within became organelles called mitochondria.
Every cell in your body except Red Blood Cells (RBC) has large numbers of mitochondria, and these are essential for the respiration process. They break down oxygen to supply a molecule called ATP , which multicellular organisms use to power cellular processes.
We know there are adaptations that allow some organisms to thrive in low-oxygen, or hypoxic, conditions. Some single-celled organisms have evolved mitochondria related organelles for anaerobic metabolism; but the likelihood of exclusively anaerobic multicellular organisms has been the topic of some scientific debate.
It’s a Cnidarian (an aquatic animal found both in fresh water and marine water), belonging to an equivalent phylum as corals, jellyfish and anemones (flowering plant). Although the cysts (cavity) it creates within the fish’s flesh are unsightly, the parasites aren’t harmful, and can accept the salmon (type of fish) for its entire life cycle.
Hide away inside its host, the small cnidarian can survive quite hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) conditions. But exactly how it does so is difficult to understand without watching the creature’s DNA– so that is what the researchers did.
They used deep sequencing and microscopy to conduct an in depth study of Henneguya salminicola, and located that it’s lost its mitochondrial genome. Additionally, it is also lost the capacity for aerobic respiration, and most of the nuclear genes involved in transcribing and replicating mitochondria.
Like the single celled organisms, it had evolved mitochondria related organelles; but these are unusual too – they need folds within the inner membrane not usually seen. The same sequencing and microscopic methods during a closely related cnidarian fish parasite, Myxobolus Squamalis, was used as an impact , and clearly showed a mitochondrial genome.
These results show that here, at last, may be a multicellular organism that does not need oxygen to survive. Exactly how it survives remains something of a mystery. It might be leeching ATP from its host, but that’s yet to be determined.
But the loss is pretty according to an overall trend in these creatures – one among genetic simplification. Over many, a few years, they need basically transfer from a Free Living jellyfish ancestor into the far more simple parasite we see today.
They’ve lost most of the first jellyfish genome, but retaining oddly a posh structure resembling Jelly Fish stinging cells. They do not use these to sting, but to hold close their hosts: an evolutionary adaptation from the free living jelly fish must the parasite’s. You will see them with in the image above they’re the items that appear as if eyes.
The discovery could help fisheries adapt their strategies for handling the parasite; although it’s harmless to humans, nobody wants to shop for salmon riddled with tiny weird jelly fish. But it is also a heck of a discovery for helping us to know how life works.”Our discovery confirms that adaptation to an anaerobic environment isn’t unique to single-celled eukaryotes, but has also evolved during a multicellular, parasitic animal” the researchers wrote in their paper.
“Hence, Henneguya salminicola provides a chance for understanding the evolutionary transition from an aerobic to an exclusive anaerobic metabolism.”
The research has been published in PNAS.