First-ever animal that doesn’t need oxygen to survive found

Scientists have discovered an animal that does not need oxygen to produce energy needed for its survival. The tiny, less than 10-celled parasite, Henneguya salminicola, lives in salmon muscle. As it evolved, the animal, a relative of jellyfish and corals, gave up breathing and consuming oxygen – or became anaerobic – to produce energy.

Mitochondria, a.k.a. the powerhouses of the cell, capture oxygen to make energy through aerobic respiration – but researchers found that H. salminicola lacks mitochondrial genes. Salmon muscle is a low-oxygen environment, making the ability to breathe oxygen useless to the organism. “Living in an oxygen-free environment, it has shed unnecessary genes responsible for aerobic respiration and became an even simpler organism,” said Prof. Dorothee Huchon from Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel. “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.”


Picture Credit : Google