Scientists discover fish parasites that do not breathe: study

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The Henneguya salminicola is a species of parasitic blob that lives inside and feeds on the flesh of fish. The creature is the first multicellular animal discovered that does not breathe, according to a study in Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences.

The parasite has no mitochondrial DNA, which enables other animals to respirate. Citing the authors, Live Science reports the parasite possibly absorbs ATP energy molecules directly from infected hosts to acquire energy without using oxygen fuel.

Science Live reports that H. salminicola is mostly innocuous, but related parasites have wiped out whole fisheries stocks.

H. salminocla is a distant relative of the jellyfish and the microscopic parasites have evolved to lose nerves, muscles and tissue. This genetic simplicity allows the creature to reproduce quickly, an evolutionary advantage for parasites.

Study co-author Dorothee Huchon is cited as saying the parasite's spores are the only part of H. salminocla that shows any complexity. The spores are able to swim with two tails, and their eye-shaped stingers can latch on to the host when needed.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Fish parasite Henneguya salminicola is the only multicellular animal that does not breathe
2. The species lacks mitochondrial DNA that allows respiration and energy acquisition
3. The parasite is related to jellyfish and is genetically simpler
4. Parasite's spores are the only sophisticated part of its biology


VOICEOVER (in English):
"The Henneguya salminicola is a species of parasitic blob that lives inside and feeds on the flesh of fish. The creature is the first multicellular animal discovered that does not breathe, according to a study in Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences."

"The parasite has no mitochondrial DNA, which enables other animals to respirate. Citing the authors, Live Science reports the parasite possibly absorbs ATP energy molecules directly from infected hosts to acquire energy without using oxygen fuel."

"H. salminocla is a distant relative of the jellyfish and the microscopic parasites have evolved to lose nerves, muscles and tissue. This genetic simplicity allows the creature to reproduce quickly, an evolutionary advantage for parasites."

"Study co-author Dorothee Huchon is cited as saying the parasite's spores are the only part of H. salminocla that shows any complexity. The spores are able to swim with two tails, and their eye-shaped stingers can latch on to the host when needed."

SOURCES: Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Live Science
https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/02/18/1909907117
https://www.livescience.com/first-non-breathing-animal.html