A Biological Analysis of the Flood Lifecycle
Posted By: Zack J Mitchell<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 22 July 2010, 12:17 am
Warning: Some Knowledge of Biology is needed in order to completely understand this paper.
A Biological Analysis of the Flood Lifecycle
This paper addresses the biological aspects of the 'Flood' Organism (Inferi Redivivus), something which has always been an area of speculation for most fans of the 'Halo' franchise. This paper aims to provide a better understanding of the flood utilising scientific methods and conclusions made in previous papers regarding this subject. It was found that the Flood is more closely related to the kingdom 'Fungi' rather than plantae or animilia, as it's lifecyle and capabilities most closely resemble those found in most fungi. However, there is evidence to rebuke the comment made in said paper that the flood is a member of the 'Fungi Imperfecti', as it has been found that the flood can undertake sexual reproduction.
As stated in most information about the Flood, the biology of said organism is complex. However, in this paper, I will attempt to convey my hypotheses regarding the biological properties of the flood. These hypotheses were made by observing the morphology, and lifecycle of the organism in question. A paper regarding the taxanomy of the flood was also studied, and conclusions from said paper are included in this one. However, the observations made in this paper are taken from the game 'Halo 3', rather than 'Halo: Combat Evolved'.
The flood was examined extensively in the game 'Halo 3' on the levels 'Floodgate', 'The Covenant', 'Cortana', and 'Halo'. Of these, the level 'Cortana' provided most of the information, as it provides an in depth look at the appearance of a mature flood hive. Flood growth pods were features of interest, as they seem to be the source of most infection forms. The growth pods' relationship with common flood biomass was also observed. The aggressive behaviour of the flood was noted, as was their methods of attack.
The level 'Floodgate' provides a clear presentation into how the infection form 'infects' a victim. This was observed early in the level, at the point where the player enters the first building. A marine is in the process of being attacked by a group of infection forms and is quickly assmiliated. The stages of infection were recorded, as was the time taken for full assimilation to take place. During assimilation, the growths which formed on the victim's back were noted to be similar to flood growth pods.
Flood Growth pods share a close relationship with the surrounding flood biomass. This has led me to believe that in the early stages of the flood lifecycle, the organism exists like most other fungi ; as a network of hyphae. As stated in a previous paper, these hyphae are able to reproduce asexually by the means of conidiospores. However, they are also able to reproduce sexually - when mycelia form in a close proximity of one another, their hyphae may become fused. This new mycellium posseses two nuclei, and produces a fruiting body in which fertilisation takes place and spores are produced. This is exactly the same in flood - It is my hypothesis that the flood mycelia undertake a similar process, resulting in a fruiting body, which would be the flood growth pod. This would make sense, as in the flood growth pod, fertilisation would take place and (assuming meiosis is not involved after fertilisation) flood infection forms would develop inside the pod, as shown in the game.
It appears that the infection form attacks it's victim by attaching itself to the host's body, preferably at the neck or chest. It then utilises it's tentacles to tear open an entrance to the host's body, in which it may burrow into. The host's metamorphosis then takes place, first with the appearance of growths on the host's back. These growths bear a striking resembelance to flood growth pods, which lead me to another possible hypothesis - that these growths contain the pure genetic information of the infection form, and as such, meiosis can take place to produce spores. If this hypothesis is correct, when ruptured, these growths should release spores which may then develop into hyphae in favourable conditions, completing the flood life cycle.
As for the metamorphosis itself, I was unable to reach any conclusion. Very little information exists which describes it. However, I was able to conclude that it takes a mere 12 seconds for the metamorphosis to reach completion.
These conclusions allow for us to have a better understanding of the flood lifecycle. The appearance of fruiting bodies (the growth pods) and other such features make the flood to appear more earth-like than previously thought. The discovery that the flood can reproduce from just one spore is a troubling thought. This explains how the flood is able to spread so quickly throughout a population.
It can be concluded that the flood lifecycle is as follows : When a spore lands in faviourable conditions, it may grow into a network of hyphae. This network may continue to expand into a mycelium. This myclium may then undertake asexual reproduction (either by fragmentation or the production of more conidiospores), or it may take part in sexual reproduction, when it fuses with another mycelium. If sexual reproduction does indeed take place, then a fruiting body (the flood growth pod) may then be formed.
Inside this flood growth pod, cell nuclei fuse. However, unlike fungi on Earth, this new diploid nucleus does not instantly undergo meiosis. Instead, it stays diploid, and an infection form may be grown from it. If the infection form successfully assimilates a host, then structures similar to growth pods may form on the host's back, in which spores may be produced by meiosis. When these pods rupture, the spores are released and the cycle begins again.
Moskowitz, Joshua., 2006: A Taxonomical Analysis of the 'Flood' Organism. Internet: http://halo.bungie.org/misc/jman571_flood_taxonomy/
Online Flood Information
Various., 2010: The Flood. Internet: http://halo.wikia.com/wiki/Flood