Prof. Dorothee Huchon and her research group have discovered quite by chance an animal that doesn’t need to breathe!

The discovery is a result of genomic sequencing in the framework of the group’s research, which focuses on different species of parasites

Prof. Dorothee Huchon in her lab at the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History
Prof. Dorothee Huchon in her lab at the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History

A research group led by Prof. Dorothee Huchon at the School of Zoology and the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University, has discovered an animal that exists without the need for oxygen.  The species, which belongs to the  phylum Myxozoa, is a tiny parasite comprising fewer than 10 cells.  It is a distant relative of the medusa family and lives as a parasite on the bodies of salmon fishes.

 

In the framework of various studies, Prof. Huchon and her colleagues in research institutions in the USA and France have sequenced the genomes of different parasites, and first discovered that this parasite has no mitochondrial DNA.  This exceptional trait could not have been discovered without genetic sequencing, which eventually led to the ground-breaking discovery that breathing is not essential for every animal.

 

Prof. Huchon hopes in the future to discover  exactly how this tiny parasite succeeds in obtaining the energy it needs to survive.

 

The full article appears in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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