Henneguya Salminicola

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Feb 23, 2023, 10:49

The earth is full of strange creatures, including animals, plants, organisms, microorganisms, etc. Henneguya Salminicola counts among the unique animals on earth. It is the only multicellular animal that doesn't breathe oxygen.

Does it sound strange? Read on to know in detail about this non-oxygen breathing animal.

What Is Henneguya Salminicola?

Henneguya Salminicola is a parasite belonging to the Myxozoa clade within Cnidaria. It is also known as Henneguya zschokkei. This parasite attaches itself to certain species of salmon fish.

Henneguya Salminicola causes tapioca or milky flesh disease.

How Does Henneguya Salminicola Differ From Other Animals?

Henneguya Salminicola is the first and only known multicellular animal that does not have a mitochondrial genome and mitochondria. The absence of mitochondria means this parasite does not take the help of aerobic respiration to produce energy. It is not yet known how it produces energy. But the important point is that it does not breathe oxygen.

Characteristics of Henneguya Salminicola

Among the major characteristics of Henneguya Salminicola are -

  • This parasite appears as an ovoid spore in fish. It has two long caudal appendages and two anterior polar capsules.
  • It is generally 3-6 mm in diameter.
  • The parasite can be found anywhere in the muscle mass of salmon fish.
  • No mitochondrial genome exists in these parasites.
  • They can't perform aerobic cellular respiration.
  • The parasite has no genes for mitochondrial DNA replication.
  • The parasite can exist in an oxygen-free environment.

Significance of Discovering Henneguya Salminicola

Aerobic respiration is a trademark characteristic of eukaryotes. It is a vital metabolic pathway. But the discovery of Henneguya Salminicola shows that all animals don't use aerobic respiration or oxygen. Further, it confirms that the single-celled eukaryotes aren't the only ones who have adapted to an anaerobic environment. This multicellular, parasitic animal has also followed this route of adaptation.

The general belief is that organisms become more complex with evolution. But in this case, the organism turned into a simpler one. It discarded all unwanted genes responsible for aerobic respiration. Thus, the organism offers a chance to understand the evolutionary transition from aerobic metabolism to anaerobic metabolism. This holds huge significance for evolutionary research in the future.

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Facts to Know About Henneguya Salminicola

  • Henneguya Salminicola belongs to the phylum Cnidaria.
  • The parasite is distantly related to jellyfish.
  • It was discovered by accident that this parasite doesn't breathe oxygen. This discovery was made while the researchers assembled its genome sequence.
  • When this parasite attaches itself to the flesh of fish, it doesn't hold its breath.
  • Apart from its ability to breathe, this organism has lost its nerve cells, tissues, and muscles.

☛ Also Read: Daily Current Affairs

The existence of Henneguya Salminicola indicates that animals can evolve in any direction. Unlike the general route of unicellular organisms evolving into multicellular organisms, this parasite has gone in the opposite direction. Its discovery can help scientists look at evolution from a new perspective.

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FAQs on Henneguya Salminicola

Q.1. Who discovered Henneguya Salminicola?

Henneguya Salminicola was discovered by a team of researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel. The team was headed by Professor Dorothee Huchon from the university's School of Zoology.

Q.2. What variety of salmon serve as host for Henneguya Salminicola?

Some of the known hists of Henneguya Salminicola are Pink salmon, Coho salmon, Chum salmon, Chinook salmon, Atlantic salmon, and Sockeye salmon.

Q.3. How many cells are there in Henneguya Salminicola?

Henneguya Salminicola is a tiny parasite with less than ten cells.

Q.4. How does Henneguya Salminicola infect salmon?

Henneguya Salminicola infects the host salmon by releasing spores into it.

Q.5. Why is the disease caused by Henneguya Salminicola called tapioca disease?

When Henneguya Salminicola infects salmon, it releases spores. These spores look like oozing white bubbles. Since they look like tapioca, the disease is called tapioca disease.