Animals and humans need oxygen to live. But, researchers discovered a unique organism that in fact, does not need oxygen to live.
The H. salminicola is a myxozoan cnidarian, a tiny parasite that lives in salmon tissue and it evolves and produces energy without the need of oxygen. It steals the salmon’s “ready-made nutrients,” instead of consuming oxygen.
“When we think of ‘animals,’ we picture multicellular creatures that need oxygen to survive, unlike many single-celled organisms including protists and bacteria,” Stephen Atkinson, senior research associate at Oregon State University’s Department of Microbiology, said. “In our work, we have shown that there is at least one multicellular animal that does not have the genetic toolkit to use oxygen.”
The H. salminicola is also a type of animal that is related to jellyfish and coral. Researchers said the organisms probably does not harm the fish and could not infect the humans.
“By losing the genome, the parasite is saving energy by not having to copy genes for things it no longer needs,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson and his team, though, do not think that the organism is the last oxygen-free animal in the world.