It has always been one of the prerequisites of life that an organism need oxygen to survive but just recently there was a certain eukaryote or rather a multicellular organism found to be able to live its life without the need of oxygen! This discovery was made by zoologist Dorothee Huchon who is from Tel Aviv University in Israel and her discovery has just confirmed that cnidarian, a parasite Henneguya salminicola is the very first eukaryote to be found that does not need oxygen for its survival. Could this mean that life in space is very likely?
This astonishing discovery was a win for everyone
According to Huchon, the study shows aerobic respiration which is one of the most important metabolic functions that is not ubiquitous among animals. This parasite has no appetite for humans but rather salmon which means that this is not something we can categorize as the virus Coronavirus or Covid-19. The recent scare caused by the coronavirus or Covid-19 has most people categorizing viruses, bacteria, and even parasites in the same table which is something preposterous to do as these three different organisms are completely different.
The H. Salminicola does not need oxygen to survive mainly because it is not structured like other parasites since it does not have a mitochondria which is the metabolic powerhouse that processes nutrients into energy for a single cell. Every other living being on earth has the need for oxygen to survive to fuel its mitochondria within the cells which is what makes this specific myxozoan (cnidarian parasite for worms and fish) different because of the absence of its need to feed or fuel its mitochondria.
How does this parasite live without the mitochondria?
Using a specific fluorescent dye which binds to the mitochondria showed just how this parasite was able to function without a mitochondria. The theories behind how this single-celled organism and how it is able to survive is through evolution. Most likely, the organism had to survive in hypoxic environments where oxygen is not present which then push the parasite to develop mitochondria-related organelles or rather MRO to replace the function of the mitochondria. Further study as to the specifics is still to be conducted about this parasite.
How the study gets even more interesting
To make things even more complicated, the specimens being studied for this discovery were all dead which means it is quite impossible to culture the parasite on a petri dish because it needs to host on both a worm and a fish within its life cycle and researchers are still trying to find which specific worm would be the perfect host for this parasite. Quite similar to the coronavirus or the Covid-19 virus which needs a host to reproduce, this parasite seems more desperate because without a host, this parasite seems not to live long.
According to the scientists behind this discovery, there is a possibility for more similar organisms out there and that biology should be a priority of science as well. There are so many things we do not understand about earth which points out that if we understand more about earth, we may understand more about space.