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Science & Technology

Scientists discover animal that doesn't breathe

By T.K. Randall
February 25, 2020 · Comment icon 10 comments

The parasite lives in salmon muscles. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 CSIRO
For the first time ever, researchers have identified an animal that does not need to breathe oxygen to survive.
The need to breathe would seem to be common to all animals, but now a team of scientists at Israel's Tel Aviv University have thrown a major spanner in the works by discovering a creature that appears to have entirely given up on the art of breathing and consuming oxygen to produce energy.

Known as Henneguya salminicola, this peculiar specimen, which is a relative of jellyfish and corals, is a 10-celled parasite that is found in the muscles of salmon.

The discovery was made quite by accident - scientists had been conducting a microscopic and genomic analysis of the creature when they found that it didn't have a mitochondrial genome - something essential to the respiratory process.

"Aerobic respiration was thought to be ubiquitous in animals, but now we confirmed that this is not the case," said Professor Dorothee Huchon.

"Our discovery shows that evolution can go in strange directions. Aerobic respiration is a major source of energy, and yet we found an animal that gave up this critical pathway."
So if this creature does not breathe oxygen, how is it able to survive ?

"It's not yet clear to us how the parasite generates energy," said Huchon.

"It may be drawing it from the surrounding fish cells, or it may have a different type of respiration such as oxygen-free breathing, which typically characterizes anaerobic non-animal organisms."

The search for answers continues.

Source: | Comments (10)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
Wow strange beast ! But parasite are sometime odd..
Comment icon #2 Posted by aztek 4 years ago
it is a parasite, it gets nutrients and o2 from the host, and it prbly dumps co2, and other waste in the host as well, 
Comment icon #3 Posted by lightly 4 years ago
Ah.   Thanks aztek, so it does use oxygen...but gets it from it's host's blood , I assume. ?    No lungs though huh? Evolved out of a need for lungs...weird.  As Spock would say..."fascinating"
Comment icon #4 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
Well without mitochondrial genome it will have a hard time using it like we are... it's the site of aerobic energy production. It have another mean elsewhere maybe.
Comment icon #5 Posted by third_eye 4 years ago
I sense, a great disturbance...  ~
Comment icon #6 Posted by aztek 4 years ago
several years ago i heard israelis developed a way to inject o2 right into human bloodstream, no need for lungs, in theory, but that article said nothing about removing unneeded co2 from blood,  which is what lungs do as well. and how the device will regulate co2\o2 ratio in our blood,  neither i heard about that ever again, prbly a "marketing trick" to get funds, but the idea is interesting 
Comment icon #7 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
Yeah we can inject it directly or use other mean to get O2 or getting it from the skin like amphibian or ascaris (round worm), but you need mitochondrial genome to use O2 to produce energy like burning sugar... It cannot use it, it seems.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Sir Smoke aLot 4 years ago
It was interesting read but then the party breaker came 
Comment icon #9 Posted by MissJatti 4 years ago
Comment icon #10 Posted by jbondo 4 years ago
Nowhere did I see anything about it getting o2 from any source. I did however read that "It may have oxygen free breathing"..

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