Genetic Parasites
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Big fleas have little fleas,
Upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
and so, ad infinitum.


October 26, 2007: Scientists discover the entire genetic code of one species - a type of bacteria residing inside the DNA of another (a type of fly). However, this is unlikely to work on humans since bacteria do not infect human sperms or eggs - although mitochondrial DNA is1likely a remnant of an earlier evolutionary time when something like that was possible.

See Also



Game and Story Use

  • Who knows what other creatures might lurk in the DNA of plants, animals - and people? In a horror or SF campaign, afflicted creatures could start to transform into other creatures (or give birth to them) when their genetic parasites are triggered. Probably not terribly realistic in the case of advanced life forms - but when has that ever stopped anyone?
    • Several viruses certainly appear to have been stitched into the typical human genome - and anyone who has ever had a cold sore (or any other herpes infection) has at least one more.
    • The mechanisms for assembling anything more complicated than a virus from inside a eukaryotic cell would take a great deal of handwaving however…
    • Even getting hitchhiker DNA like this functional would be tricky - the sort of viruses that do it are specially designed for the job …
  • While the article denies this, maybe there are "super-bacteria" capable of afflicting human sperm or eggs - or maybe such bacteria could be created.
    • Maybe your generic Evil Megacorp secretly develops and releases a bacteria into the environment which changes the DNA of the afflicted so that their children will be weak-willed when commanded by others. Only a expensive/restricted treatment will prevent this. Thus, the corporate leadership and their favorite cronies will - in a generation or two - rule the world because they are the only ones with strong will intact!
    • There is likely to be no fundamental reason that any given bacterium couldn't infect human gametes - at a cellular level we are virtually identical to flies and it's probably more a matter of coincidence than design.
  • There are, however, plenty of viruses that stitch their DNA into their host, and humans can contract as many of these as any other species. There may even be standard parts of the human genome that were originally part of a virus.
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