Scientists Discovered Genetics Behind The “Immortal Jellyfish” That Ages Backwards

Many of us dream of being immoral but we also realize it is more of a myth than a reality. We recognize the science fiction associated with the fountain of youth but as it turns out, there are some species that may be able to turn back the hands of time.

One of the species that is able to do this actually turns itself from an adult to a juvenile and then grows back into an adult again. It is a never-ending cycle of the “immortal jellyfish,” and the transformation is fascinating.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

According to Ker Than of National Geographic: “The jellyfish turns itself into a bloblike cyst, which then develops into a polyp colony, essentially the first stage in jellyfish life.”

He goes on to talk about the asexual reproduction that completely transforms the jellyfish’s cells in the process of going from one stage to another. Hundreds of genetically identical jellyfish are spawned, which are almost perfect copies of the adult.

It is thought that this process, which continues to happen over and over again, is helping the jellyfish thrive in the ocean.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

If you’re interested in taking a deeper look at the subject, you can check out the study, “Comparative genomics of mortal and immortal cnidarians unveils novel keys behind rejuvenation.”

According to that study: “Turritopsis dohrnii is the only metazoan able to rejuvenate repeatedly after its medusae reproduce, hinting at biological immortality and challenging our understanding of ageing.”

Researchers go on to talk about how variants have been identified and the expansion of genes are associated with a number of important factors, including DNA repair, stem cell population, and replication.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

They sum things up, saying: “Thus, variants that are damaging only late in life are not readily eliminated from the gene pool. Consequently, ageing has evolved over time through modulation of traits related to the hallmarks of health or to the determinants of aging, such as cellular senescence or genomic instability, which impair pluripotency and regeneration potentials.”

When you get right down to it, that jellyfish may have a solution but it isn’t about to come our way as quickly as any of us would like.

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