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The world's first non-breathing animal was discovered

Until the new discovery, scientists believed that all organisms belonging to the animal kingdom breathe oxygen, and need it to develop * The article was published last night (24.2.20) in the journal PNAS 

In the photo: a fluorescent image of the parasite's spores Photo: Prof. Stephen D. Atkinson (Oregon State University, OR
In the photo: a fluorescent image of the parasite's spores
Photo: Prof. Stephen D. Atkinson (Oregon State University, OR

Researchers at Tel Aviv University, led by Prof. Dorota Hoshon from the School of Zoology andFrom the Steinhardt Museum of Nature, He discovered, for the first time in the history of science, an animal that does not breathe air. It is a tiny parasite, with less than ten cells, called Henneguya Salminicola, which lives in the muscle tissue of the salmon. The researchers who sequenced his genome found that he does not have any genes related to aerobic respiration - the process in which the cell produces energy with the help of oxygen. This means that, unlike all animals known so far, this parasite does not need oxygen to create energy.

The research was funded by BSF - the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation. Prof. Jerry Bartholomew from Oregon State University and researchers from the University of Kansas and the National Center for Scientific Research CNRS in France participated in the study. The article was published last night (24.2.20) in the journal PNAS.

"As part of a comprehensive study, we are sequencing the genomes of a wide variety of fish parasites," explains Prof. Hoshon. "Among other things, we sequenced the genome of Henneguya Salminicola - a tiny animal, with less than 10 cells, that lives in the muscle tissue of the salmon fish and belongs to the calyx system. To our surprise, we discovered that this animal has no genes at all related to the process of aerobic respiration in the cell. This means that unlike all known animals, including the parasite's own relatives, such as jellyfish, corals and sea anemones, this creature does not need oxygen to breathe. To date we have known other organisms, such as bacteria, fungi and amoebas, that produce energy without oxygen - but these are not defined as belonging to the animal kingdom. The parasite we found is the first creature defined as an animal that was found to lack the ability to breathe oxygen."

Until the new discovery, scientists believed that all organisms belonging to the animal kingdom breathe oxygen, and need it to develop. This assumption was based, among other things, on the fact that these are multicellular and relatively developed organisms, which first appeared on Earth when the oxygen level in the oceans rose.

The researchers speculate that the parasite may have 'given up' breathing during its evolution, because in its natural environment, mainly within the muscle tissue of the fish, oxygen is not accessible. "It is still not clear to us how he produces energy for himself to live," says Prof. Hoshon. "It is possible that it takes from the cells of the host fish molecules of the energy source ATP, and it is possible that it breathes anaerobic respiration, that is, respiration without oxygen, which usually characterizes tiny organisms that are not defined as animals."

According to Prof. Hoshon, the discovery has a special meaning for the study of evolution: "It is generally accepted to think that during evolution organisms become more complex and complicated, and that single-celled or single-celled creatures are relatively simple and primitive. But here before us is a creature whose evolutionary process was apparently reversed. Because it lived in an oxygen-free environment, it shed unnecessary genes responsible for aerobic respiration, becoming a simpler organism. For him, a small and simple genome has significant advantages, as it allows the parasite to replicate itself more quickly. And to conclude: it turns out that even in evolution sometimes less is actually more..."

18 תגובות

  1. It is very possible that we are talking about a multicellular as Yehuda says, but regarding a creature that does not breathe it is a bit difficult to establish such a fact. Try to correct the content of the article and make it more accurate.

  2. How can a creature live without breathing, is such a thing possible,
    Perhaps it is important to understand that he has a way of breathing that was not yet known to us, indeed it is certainly a very interesting Tashba but creates a very big controversy.
    It is important to understand that it is necessary to check whether the creature breathes in an unfamiliar way.

  3. Regarding some things written here.
    An aerobic energy production process (without oxygen) is the initial process of breaking down glucose (glycolysis) it produces two ATP.
    An aerobic energy production process (with oxygen) takes the products of glucose breakdown and passes them through additional processes (Krebs cycle and electron exchange) that produce 36 more ATP.
    Therefore the thought is that a more sophisticated animal needs more energy and therefore cannot live without oxygen.

  4. If he gets energy from ATP it means he does use oxygen to live. ATP cannot be produced without oxygen. Because it is so small, instead of breathing on its own, it uses a salmon to breathe for it.

  5. Yoav, thanks for the relevant response.
    It seems you read my response carefully.

    I'm not a biologist, but your next sentence doesn't work for me:
    "Aerobic respiration is not the process of introducing oxygen into the body, but rather the breaking down of glucose molecules, in a relatively complex process that requires oxygen, in order to create energy"

    You write that this is a process that requires oxygen, so that tells me that it is necessary to introduce oxygen.


  6. Response to Eli:
    I'm sorry to say, but you're just wrong. "Aerobic respiration" is not the process of introducing oxygen into the body, but the breaking down of glucose molecules, in a relatively complex process that requires oxygen, for energy production. (I'm not being precise, aerobic respiration is the breakdown of the product of the breakdown of glucose, which I think is called pyruvic acid). If a creature does not do this process, it means that its cells do not consume oxygen to produce energy (perhaps they use one of the types of fermentation that bacteria mainly use) and it does not live in the presence of oxygen at all, so there is no way that it uses oxygen in any other way. Honestly, the theory that it builds ATP from nearby cells sounds really interesting, but I wonder how it can do that, since ATP isn't supposed to come out of their cells at all

  7. What happens to those who eat salmon infected with this parasite?
    Stops consuming oxygen?

  8. Nice responses, I understood mine in two possible explanations that it is "his energy" and the title of the article.

    This parasite, which may be the first animal to form carbon dioxide like the plants from the outside, looks like an animal but to the whites it looks like a plant.

    It could be that what I'm saying is wrong, but maybe it's true, when they wrote mushrooms and more that are not animals, then this parasite is maybe half plant, half animal.

  9. But I don't understand. There are anaerobic organisms that receive nitrogen or sulfur instead of oxygen. That is, their respiration process is nitrogen or sulfur. I mean, what is the purpose?

  10. Maybe you should correct the article and also change the title to:
    "The first animal in the world that does not breathe oxygen in the way we know has been discovered"


    In my understanding, the researchers' test found that "he has no genes related to aerobic respiration at all".
    But maybe this creature breathes or receives oxygen in another way that is unknown to us.

    It kind of reminds me of the joke about the scientist who cut off a grasshopper's legs and told it to jump.
    The grasshopper did not jump, so the scientist understood from this that the grasshopper hears with its legs.

    Maybe it's just better to put this creature in a controlled environment similar to its environment but without oxygen and then
    to see how long he continues to live. Isn't this a better and simpler experiment?
    Perhaps these researchers also did this experiment, but it does not appear in this article.

    Actually, maybe even with the simple experiment I suggested there is a problem.
    Maybe this creature knows, despite its very basic structure, to create oxygen from the materials around it
    and use this oxygen in another way that is unknown to us.

    Eli Isaac
    Some details about humanity's abuse of animals (don't do anything, just don't say we didn't know):
    A little about me:

  11. How stupid these scientists are, Yala. There is no other but him, may the Creator be praised

  12. The concept of "animal" in Hebrew is also problematic.
    As mentioned, this is a parasite that over time lost the need and ability to use oxygen as an energy source.
    I wonder if he has a remnant of mitochondria

  13. Since the article does not talk about nuclear fission in which a small part of the material turns into energy, there is no place to use the term "energy producer". The meaning is probably that the cells produce (chemical) energy.

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