Henneguya Salminicola

A team of researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) have discovered a non-oxygen breathing animal, named Henneguya Salminicola. This multicellular animal is found with no mitochondrial DNA, making it the only known animal to exist without the need to breathe oxygen.

In this article, we shall discuss the main characteristics of this organism and the key facts underlined by the international researchers about Henneguya Salminicola. IAS Exam aspirants must carefully analyse the characteristic features of this animal species as questions based on the same may be asked in the upcoming Civil Services Exam. 

Henneguya Salminicola – Key Characteristic Features

  • The size of the organism is very small and is a less than 10 celled parasite
  • It lives in the muscles of salmon fish
  • The DNA of Henneguya Salminicola tissue has no mitochondrial DNA at all
  • The organism does not require oxygen for its existence which means that it depends on anaerobic respiration for its survival
  • It is a member of the group Myxozoa
  • Since they do not rely on aerobic respiration, the researchers suggest they likely steal energy from their host using some type of proteins
  • Henneguya Salminicola can cause ‘tapioca disease’ in salmons. It is harmless to both fishes and human beings

UPSC aspirants can get NCERT Notes on Biodiversity and learn more about species, genetics & ecosystem at the linked article. 

Some Important Terms

What is aerobic respiration?

The process of cellular respiration taking place in the presence of oxygen to produce energy from food is called aerobic respiration. It is generally common in plants and animals, birds, humans, and other mammals.

What is anaerobic respiration?

The respiration which takes place in the absence of oxygen is known as anaerobic respiration. The microorganisms like yeast break down glucose (food) into ethanol, carbon dioxide and release energy, which they use for their survival.

What are mitochondria?

The “powerhouse” of the cell, which captures oxygen to make energy is called mitochondria. A parasite surviving without mitochondria indicates that it does not breathe oxygen. 

Henneguya Salminicola – Other conclusions drawn based on Research

  • According to the researchers, as the organism evolved, it gave up breathing and stopped the consumption of oxygen for the production of energy
  • Not evidence has yet been found as to how the organism generates energy. It is assumed that it may be taking it from the host or surrounding fish.
  • It is estimated to have similar characteristics as that of fungi or amoebas which are the anaerobic non-animal organisms
  • One of the biggest facts which have been confirmed after the discovery of Henneguya Salminicola is that animals can survive with oxygen and has opened up a wider frame for researchers to study about the evolution

Also, visit Biodiversity Report: RSTV – In Depth

Get the comprehensive prelims and mains UPSC Syllabus for the upcoming Civil Services Exam at the linked article and start your preparation accordingly. 

For any further exam updates, study material or tips regarding preparation strategy, visit BYJU’S.

UPSC 2022

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