There are some truths about the Universe that seem to be immutable, there’s no doubt about this. For instance, multicellular life requires oxygen to live – but we might just have to reconsider this.
Earlier this year, experts discovered that there’s a jellyfish-like parasite that does not have a mitochondrial genome – the first multicellular organism like this.
In other words, it doesn’t breathe, and in fact, it lives its life completely free of oxygen dependency.
The discovery is not just changing the understanding of how life can work on this planet, but it could also end up having implications involving the search of ET life.
Life started to develop the ability to metabolism oxygen about 1.45 billion years ago. Science Alert writes that there was a larger archaeon that engulfed a smaller bacterium, and the bacterium’s new home was beneficial to both parties – the two stayed together.
This symbiotic relationship resulted in the two organisms evolving together, and eventually, the bacteria became organelles called mitochondria. Every cell in our bodies except the red blood cells has a vast number of mitochondria, and these are crucial for the respiration process.
A multicellular organism that doesn’t need oxygen to survive
Some organisms are able to thrive in locations with low-oxygen – the hypoxic conditions.
“Some single-celled organisms have evolved mitochondria-related organelles for anaerobic metabolism,” the online publication mentioned above notes.
A team of experts led by Dayana Yahalomi from Tel Aviv University in Israel took a look at a common salmon parasite called Henneguya salminicola. A closer look at it revealed that it had lost its mitochondrial genome, and it’s also lost ita ability for anaerobic respiration.
The results are showing that we have a multicellular organism that does not need oxygen in order to survive.
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