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posted by martyb on Friday April 21 2017, @09:24AM   Printer-friendly
from the where-do-they-get-the-seeds? dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Deprived of oxygen, naked mole-rats can survive by metabolizing fructose just as plants do, researchers report this week in the journal Science.

Understanding how the animals do this could lead to treatments for patients suffering crises of oxygen deprivation, as in heart attacks and strokes.

[...] In humans, laboratory mice, and all other known mammals, when brain cells are starved of oxygen they run out of energy and begin to die.

But naked mole-rats have a backup: their brain cells start burning fructose, which produces energy anaerobically through a metabolic pathway that is only used by plants -- or so scientists thought.

In the new study, the researchers exposed naked mole-rats to low oxygen conditions in the laboratory and found that they released large amounts of fructose into the bloodstream. The fructose, the scientists found, was transported into brain cells by molecular fructose pumps that in all other mammals are found only on cells of the intestine.

[...] At oxygen levels low enough to kill a human within minutes, naked mole-rats can survive for at least five hours... They go into a state of suspended animation, reducing their movement and dramatically slowing their pulse and breathing rate to conserve energy. And they begin using fructose until oxygen is available again.

[...] The scientists also showed that naked mole-rats are protected from another deadly aspect of low oxygen -- a buildup of fluid in the lungs called pulmonary edema that afflicts mountain climbers at high altitude.

The scientists think that the naked mole-rats' unusual metabolism is an adaptation for living in their oxygen-poor burrows. Unlike other subterranean mammals, naked mole-rats live in hyper-crowded conditions, packed in with hundreds of colony mates. With so many animals living together in unventilated tunnels, oxygen supplies are quickly depleted.

Journal Reference:
Thomas J. Park, et al.. Fructose-driven glycolysis supports anoxia resistance in the naked mole-rat. Science, 2017; 356 (6335): 307 DOI: 10.1126/science.aab3896

-- submitted from IRC


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21 2017, @10:20AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21 2017, @10:20AM (#497327)

    The "turn into plants" title is a bit misleading. While the quotes make is obvious that they don't literally turn into plants, from the title I immediately thought they can do photosynthesis, as this is what everyone knows plants do, and it is what produces oxygen, which would perfectly fit the rest of the title.

    Of course thinking a bit further, one recognizes that naked mole-rats probably don't get too much sunlight, and especially not in those situations in which they might run low on oxygen.

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21 2017, @12:06PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21 2017, @12:06PM (#497355)

    I for one welcome our genetically modified human cousins--who can be packed into ever tighter cube farms and open offices...with no danger from occasional oxygen deficits.

    • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Saturday April 22, @12:16AM

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) Subscriber Badge on Saturday April 22, @12:16AM (#497686) Homepage Journal

      Rodents are known for their infanticide as well as a certain experiment which serves as a model of human overpopulation.

      Naked mole-rats aren't even cute as their relatives are.

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Rivenaleem on Friday April 21 2017, @12:11PM

    by Rivenaleem (3400) on Friday April 21 2017, @12:11PM (#497360)

    I wonder if this explains the direction that many airlines are going these days. Perhaps they are just trying to encourage this adaptation in humans.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21 2017, @01:17PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21 2017, @01:17PM (#497374)

    This is a laboratory and not a whorehouse!

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Snospar on Friday April 21 2017, @01:23PM (2 children)

    by Snospar (5366) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 21 2017, @01:23PM (#497377)

    If the problem is overcrowding in unventilated tunnels where oxygen supplies are "quickly depleted" how does this strategy aid survival when it is combined with a "state of suspended animation" and reduced movement.

    Do they just lie there waiting for the Naked Mole-Rat Rescue Service?

    Ugly little fuckers.

    • (Score: 2) by fishybell on Friday April 21, @03:25PM (1 child)

      by fishybell (3156) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 21, @03:25PM (#497449)

      My assumption is that the oxygen supplies drop relatively slowly and at different rates throughout the hive as the mole-rats move around. I further assume that the biggest benefit is in allowing them to live environments where the oxygen levels goes up and down very often, which would be very damaging to most mammals.

      There are obviously a lot of assumptions going on here, and I'm too lazy to RTFA, which likely has a better explanation.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21, @11:18PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21, @11:18PM (#497650)

        Snakes and parasites are going to have it rough without oxygen.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Runaway1956 on Friday April 21 2017, @01:46PM (1 child)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 21 2017, @01:46PM (#497389) Journal

    I've heard, and used, some great excuses to get nekkid, but this beats them all. "The oxygen is getting low in here, let's get naked, like mole rats!"

    --
    This broadcast is intended for mature audiences.
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21 2017, @02:49PM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21 2017, @02:49PM (#497424)

    From what I remember, naked mole rats are the only one of two mammalian species that has a colony structure with a queen.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naked_mole-rat#Roles [wikipedia.org]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eusociality [wikipedia.org]

    • (Score: 2) by fishybell on Friday April 21, @03:21PM (2 children)

      by fishybell (3156) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 21, @03:21PM (#497446)

      Who knew we had so much in common? All hail the queen!...I guess.

      • (Score: 2) by Hartree on Friday April 21, @04:50PM

        by Hartree (195) on Friday April 21, @04:50PM (#497489)

        "God save the queen! She's not a human being!"

      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Saturday April 22, @09:08AM

        by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Saturday April 22, @09:08AM (#497847) Journal

        From the Wikipedia article (in the section about mammals):

        both of which are diploid and highly inbred.

        Another common trait with aristocrats.

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21, @05:40PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21, @05:40PM (#497505)

      Anunnaki and humans being the only two technological species that have a colony structure with a queen.

      Though I guess queens are more common among anunnaki. Humans prefer kings. There have always been exceptions throughout history though.

      Two species practically made for each other.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21, @08:17PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21, @08:17PM (#497570)

      one of two mammalian species

      I immediately though of alpha males and alpha females among Wolves and African Wild Dogs.

      Down in the Wikipedia article:

      Some mammals within the Carnivora and Primates exhibit eusocial tendencies. Perhaps most notable are meerkats (Suricata suricatta) and dwarf mongooses (Helogale parvula)
      [...]
      Edward O. Wilson, in his controversial [...] 2012 book, The Social Conquest of the Earth, referred to humans as a species of eusocial ape. He supported his reasoning by stating our eusocial similarities to ants, and by observing that early hominins cooperated to rear their children while other members of the same group hunted and foraged

      -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

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