ANIMAL CURIOSITIES

Can you live without breathing? According to a study, this incredible animal can do it

A study has revealed the discovery of an animal that defies common biological rules: the world's first animal that lives without breathing.

Scientists at Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with other research institutes, have identified an animal that survives without the need for a mitochondrial genome or respiratory system.

This surprising discovery was published in the pages of the 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences'. In this photogallery we explore the results of this research to try to explain how such a peculiar phenomenon is possible.

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Can you live without breathing? According to a study, this incredible animal can do it
A study has revealed the discovery of an animal that defies common biological rules: the world's first animal that lives without breathing. Scientists at Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with other research institutes, have identified an animal that survives without the need for a mitochondrial genome or respiratory system. This surprising discovery was published in the pages of the 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences'. In this photogallery we explore the results of this research to try to explain how such a peculiar phenomenon is possible.
Credit: Stephen Douglas Atkinson
Henneguya Salminicola
The parasite Henneguya salminicola is a cnidarian related to corals, jellyfish and anemones, an extraordinary organism that has lost most of the genome of its relatives. It has no tissues, nerve cells or musculature like other cnidarians. Photo: spores of H. salminicola, lacking a mitochondrial genome and aerobic respiration capacity.
Credit: Stephen Douglas Atkinson
Extraordinary feature
The most extraordinary feature is its inability to breathe, which distinguishes it as the only known animal with this peculiarity. Scientists have suggested that this peculiarity could provide the parasite with an evolutionary advantage, allowing it to reproduce more rapidly without having to spend time breathing. Photo: light microscope image of spores of the parasitic cnidarian Henneguya salminicola, from Chinook salmon.
Credit: Stephen Douglas Atkinson
How does he get the energy he needs to survive?
Although H. Salminicola does not breathe, the crucial question remains of how it obtains the energy it needs to survive. Scientists do not yet have a definitive answer, but the most plausible hypothesis is that the parasite possesses proteins that can import energy already 'processed' by the host, such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Basically, H. salminicola behaves like a real parasite, without even needing to breathe. Photo: Fluorescence micrograph showing the normal nuclear DNA (bright blue circles) of the cnidarian parasite Henneguya Salminicola. The images show that no mitochondria are present (which would be visible as many smaller blue dots next to the larger circles).
Credit: Stephen Douglas Atkinson
Questions
H. Salminicola's discovery raises further questions about the diversity and evolution of organisms. How can animals adapt and thrive without common life functions? This unique parasitic animal challenges our traditional understanding of animal biology and opens up new research perspectives. Photo: Fluorescence micrograph of spores of the cnidarian parasite Henneguya salminicola. The fluorescent dye penetrated the nuclei and membranes of the spores.
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