Monday, May 15, 2017

Naked mole rats can survive without oxygen using plant sugar tactic - BIODIVERSITY

There are many different kinds of mole rats. The best known is probably the naked mole rat, whose hairless, tubular, wrinkled body makes it appear a bit like a tiny walrus—or perhaps a bratwurst with teeth.

Now scientists have discovered what could be the subterranean rodents’ strangest trait yet: they can survive without oxygen by switching to a metabolic strategy normally used by plants.

By switching from a glucose-based metabolic system, which depends on oxygen, to one that uses fructose instead, mole rats can cope with nearly twenty minutes in air with 0% oxygen. Under the same conditions, a human would die within minutes.

“The naked mole rat has simply rearranged some basic building-blocks of metabolism to make it super-tolerant to low oxygen conditions,” said Thomas Park, professor of biological sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who made the discovery after studying the species for 18 years.

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Photograph by Joel Sartore/ National Geographic Photo Ark

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