Single-Celled Gut Protists Flourish Without Mitochondria

Single Celled Gut Protists Flourish Without Mitochondria

A groundbreaking study conducted by Lukáš Novák and Vladimír Hampl from Charles University, published in the journal PLOS Genetics, has revealed a remarkable phenomenon in Oxymonadida flagellates. These single-celled protists, thriving within the guts of termites and other animals like Blattamonas nauphoetae and Monocercomonoides exilis, challenge the conventional belief in the indispensability of mitochondria.

Mitochondrial Loss Across Species

Through meticulous genome analysis, the researchers uncovered the complete absence of mitochondria in three oxymonad species, pushing this extraordinary event back 100 million years. This loss is confirmed in Blattamonas nauphoetae, Streblomastix strix, and Monocercomonoides exilis, suggesting a shared trait within the entire Oxymonadida group.

Evolutionary Insights & Metabolic Adaptations

The evolutionary timeline places this mitochondrial loss approximately 100 million years ago, aligning with the diversification of the oxymonad lineage. Comparative analysis sheds light on the metabolic changes accompanying the transition to amitochondriality, providing insights into the unique evolutionary journey of oxymonads.

In essence, Oxymonad flagellates defy our established understanding of cellular evolution by completely discarding mitochondria, marking a significant paradigm shift in eukaryotic biology. The study's revelations about the ancient origins and metabolic adaptations of these organisms offer a captivating glimpse into the mysteries of their evolutionary past.

Article DOI,

International Society of Microbiota
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