April 5, 2020 | 7:44 PM IST
Rare jellyfish

Researchers find rare jellyfish-like parasite that survives without oxygen

A team of researchers have discovered a pinkish muscle of some Pacific salmon that is a distant cousin of jellyfish and does not have a mitochondrial genome. It, thus, becomes the first multi-cellular organism ever-known to human kind that does not breathe and thrive off oxygen dependency. The tiny organisms were found on the Mediterranean seafloor.

Mitochondria are the powerhouse of cells that continuously converts energy from food into chemical energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The researchers from an international team with Dorothée Huchon of Tel Aviv University, Stephen Atkinson of Oregon State University believe that the finding could lead to major contribution in the search of extraterrestrial life. 

The researchers were aware that a few single-celled eukaryotes adapted to low-oxygen environments, but assumed that more complex animals couldn’t get by without them. The researchers have not yet been able to explain how the animal survives without breathing, but some suggest that it is using energy it takes directly from other sea creatures it infects. 

The microscopic parasites infesting marine life was known to science for a long time, but their classification was never explored. The study has been reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday.

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