First Animal That Doesn’t Need Oxygen to Live

Source: National Post

International researchers have discovered the first animal that doesn’t need oxygen to live.

The organism, a parasite called Henneguya salminicola that is distantly related to coral and jellyfish, lives in salmon tissue and has evolved to survive without needing oxygen for energy.

The research, found that the animal has adapted by dropping its mitochondria genome entirely.

Mitochondria is necessary for creating energy and the absence of it in the 10-celled parasite indicated the animal wasn’t breathing oxygen.

Researchers found the organism lost not just its mitochondria genome, but also many of its nuclear genes involved in the transcription and replication of the genome.

The researchers aren’t sure just yet how the organism is generating energy. Huchon suggested that it may be drawing energy from its host or engaging in a breathing technique that doesn’t involve oxygen, similar to anaerobic non-animal organisms.

“It is generally thought that during evolution, organisms become more and more complex, and that simple single-celled or few-celled organisms are the ancestors of complex organisms,” Huchon told American Friends of Tel Aviv University.

Instead, this parasite has evolved in the reverse, shedding unnecessary genes and becoming a simpler organism.

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