Saturday, February 17, 2018

Sponges' Evolution-Linked Ability to Survive in Low-Oxygen Environs

Based in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Devansh Parikh engages with Rakesh Parikh, MD, PLLC, in an office secretarial role and coordinates patient care with health care providers. With a background in zoology, Devansh Parikh has a strong interest in aspects of the life sciences such as evolutionary biology. 

A recent article in Science Daily brought focus to the efforts of researchers at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich in understanding sponges, which inhabit a sister group to the full range of other animal phyla. A particular difference between sponges and nearly all other animals is that sponges require much less oxygen to survive and thrive. 

Other modern animals require a higher level of oxygen for survival, with their molecular systems enabling them to exert physiological adjustments in cases where oxygen levels are insufficient. This is accomplished through the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), a protein that serves as an oxygen sensor and informs the HIF signaling pathway.

The sponges’ lack of such an HIF signaling pathway, despite living in marine environments with a significant lack of oxygen, suggests that they evolved within the extremely oxygen-poor environments that may have existed more than 650 million years ago.