Scientists have discovered an animal Henneguya Salminicola which does not need oxygen to produce the energy needed for its survival.
It is a tiny, less than 10-celled parasite which lives in the muscles of salmon fish.
It does not not have a mitochondrial genome.
Mitochondria is the “powerhouse” of the cell, which captures oxygen to make energy.
Its absence indicates that the parasite does not breathe oxygen.
It is a relative of jellyfish and corals and as it evolved, it gave up breathing and consuming oxygen or became anaerobic to produce energy.
However, it is not yet clear how the parasite generates energy. It may be drawing it from the surrounding fish cells or it may have a different type of respiration such as oxygen-free breathing, which typically characterises anaerobic non-animal organisms like fungi, amoebas or ciliate lineages.
The discovery bears enormous significance for evolutionary research.
Aerobic respiration was thought to be prevalent in animals but now it is confirmed that animals can survive with anaerobic respiration.