Tuesday, 18 August 2015

This fish ‘sleeps’ for several years without dying

AUGUST 16, 2015

by Shayne Jacopian

Do you ever wish you could just go to sleep for several years, not have to deal with anything or anyone, and maybe wake up with a degree and a steady, well-paying job?

Well, we’ve found an animal that will make you very, very jealous. It doesn’t wake up with a degree or a job, but the African lungfish, of Protopterus annectens, can sleep for three to five years without food or water, waking up again once conditions have improved.

fishFuturity reports that in suspended animation, or “aestivation”, these fish take in no food or water and expel no waste, as they all but stop their biological clocks.

Seeking to further understand how this process works, a team of researchers from the National University of Singapore led by Professor Ip Yuen Kwong compared the gene expression of the liver of an African lungfish in suspended animation to that of an active fish.

In the study, published at PLOS ONE, they found was that suspended animation in P. annectens requires the regulation of diverse cellular activities.

Further research into suspended animation—in the African lungfish or in other species—could have a broad range of possible applications in the fields of medicine and space travel, giving surgeons more time to operate on patients and making space travel over vast distances more feasible.


Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Loury Cédric

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