As reported in the news article by Emily Chung of CBC News, scientists have made a new discovery on the first animal to not breathe oxygen. Based on the research paper first published in February 2020 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the newly discovered animal, a cnidarian parasite Henneguya salminocola, appears to be missing the mitochondrial genome and enzymes in the nucleus normally involved in aerobic respiration.
Chung reports that while it was previously known that mitochondrial respiration is a key characteristic of multicellular organisms, scientists at Tel Aviv University say otherwise. Residing within the muscles of salmon and trout in absence of oxygen as small white nodules, hence its name the “tapioca disease”, authors of the research paper Huchon et al. first sequenced the genomes of Henneguya of a Chinook salmon. Surprisingly enough, no mitochondrial DNA appeared as seen in other types of fish parasites, and thus it was concluded that adapting to a low oxygen environment was not just unique to single-celled eukaryotes, but also with the multicellular parasites that have evolved over time. Huchon et al. also mentioned that although some parasitic microbes do not aspirate themselves, they rely on the ATP molecules from their hosts as their main source of energy instead. Chung also reports in the news article that although the parasite does not seemingly harm the fish itself, “tapioca disease can make its meat unmarketable and also cause the meat to spoil more quickly”.
As a whole, Chung thoroughly and concisely summarized the research paper quite well, explaining scientific jargon in language that is appropriate to the target audience while effectively communicating the information. The article was presented in a well organized, streamlined manner, allowing for an easy read. Furthermore, the news article presented views from multiple sources outside of the research paper, adding to its credibility and validity. Overall, a very strong news piece that successfully captured and clearly communicated the main points of the research behind this novel scientific discovery.
Emily Chung reports for CBC News on the discovery of the first known animal to not breathe oxygen, published in February 2020 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The discovery of the parasite Henneguya salminocola, which causes what is termed ‘tapioca disease’ in some species of salmon and trout, has “changed our view of animals” as described by one of the principle researchers. Historically, animals and eukaryotes in general are characterized by the presence of mitochondria able to perform the function of cellular respiration along with the presence of an independent mitochondrial genome. However, the mitochondrial genome of H. salminocola was discovered missing upon DNA sequencing and the parasite was found to no longer undergo cellular respiration.
The article accurately reports the main conclusion of the research article which is this parasite species has lost the core animal feature of having a genetic basis for cellular respiration in a mitochondrion. Chung eloquently highlights each of the discoveries made that led the researchers to this conclusion with accuracy and simplicity. Commentary from one of the researchers as well as numerous other experts in the field adds a layer of validity to Chung’s reporting, and help readers understand the importance of this novel discovery. The article does not contain any undefined scientific jargon, and the language Chung uses is very neutral, non-excitatory, and suitable for a very broad audience.
The original research article is clearly linked and is publicly available, giving readers the opportunity to gain more information on the topic should it interest them. An author’s biography is also publicly available along with her other published works, though no contact information is provided. The article is void of any pop-up advertisements. Overall this article is very interesting and
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