Mistletoe Only Living Organism Without Protein Needed by All Other Multicellular Life

May 4, 2018 4:43 am Last Updated: May 4, 2018 4:43 am

Mistletoe, the traditional yuletide decoration, is apparently the only species on Earth that no longer needs a protein every other multicellular organism possesses.

According to a study published in Current Biology, two independent teams of researchers found that European mistletoe appears to survive without a protein otherwise indispensable for life.

This critical substance is known as a “Complex I” protein.

Etienne Meyer from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Germany told Gizmodo, “It’s been shown in yeast and some human parasites, but it’s quite puzzling to see that in such a large organism.”

“This research is incredibly exciting,” graduate student Maureen Williams of Trinity College Dublin, told Gizmodo.

“The evolution of parasitic lifestyles is one of the most fascinating stories of life on our planet, and these two papers, especially together, highlight the novel ways in which parasites adapt biochemically and genetically to out-compete their hosts—and other parasites.”

Complex I proteins are a vital part of how mitochondria are able to produce the ATP molecule, which is able to store and transport chemical energy within cells.