(The Gist of Science Reporter) Henneguya salminicola: The animal that doesn’t Need Oxygen to Respire  [APRIL-2020]


(The Gist of Science Reporter) Henneguya salminicola: The animal that doesn’t Need Oxygen to Respire

 [APRIL-2020]


Henneguya salminicola: The animal that doesn’t Need Oxygen to Respire

  • Oxygen is vital for the functioning of all multi-cellular organisms, however, scientists have recently found a species of animal that exists without oxygen.
  • The animal is a parasite called Henneguya salminicola, a member of the jellyfish family.
  • It survives in the muscles of salmon and trout, resulting in little white nodules known as “tapioca disease.”
  • This discovery was led by Dorothée Huchon, Zoology Professor in the Faculty of Life Sciences and the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History at Tel Aviv University, Israel.
  • According to the scientists, it will bring a whole new dimension to the understanding of animals.
  • While many microbes have evolved the ability to live without oxygen, animals are much more complex with different kinds of tissues and organelles.
  • Till date, it was believed that all animals undergo a process called ‘cellular respiration’, which is the conversion of sugars and oxygen to energy molecules known as ATP by an organelle called mitochondria, and these organelles possess their own “mitochondrial” genes.
  • The discovered parasite is also known to infect coho, pink, sockeye and chum salmon as well as rainbow trout.
  • The parasite completes its life cycle in two organisms — fish and worm.
  • The parasite is comprised of about ten cells and can live without the machinery to turn oxygen into energy.
  • The researchers reported these findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • While sequencing the genomes of Henneguya, extracted from a Chinook salmon and related fish parasites, it was noticed that Henneguya’s mitochondrial genes were missing.
  • Initially, the scientists thought it was an error but DNA fluorescent staining also revealed the absence of mitochondrial DNA.
  • Many of the genes of enzymes involved in respiration were also found to be missing with the mitochondrial DNA.
  • However, the scientists are still not sure from where this animal derives its energy.
  • There is a lot to look forward to in this unfolding story.

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Courtesy: Science Reporter


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