Parakaryotes, also known as pseudofungi, are one of two eukaryote analogs on Ilion. Like the dikaryotes, they have large, complex cells with organelles, plasmids, and large genomes. While dikaryotes have one or two nuclei, parakaryotes do not have a true membrane bound nucleus. Instead, they possess a structure known as the paranucleus. The paranucleus contains all the plasmids, large and small, connected by a fibrous net of cytoskeleton and proteins.
Parakaryote cells can be quite big, even macroscopic. They are known for having complex structures of the cell membrane which aid in transport and digestion of solid materials. Some parakaryotes produce silk.
Razor Reef Microflora
“Every pseudofungus we’ve seen feeds on decaying matter. The water from the nearest beach does not have enough organic material to supply a colony of this size. We’ll need additional samples from the reef to test our current hypothesis: that the fungus is predatory, and uses its cutting power to lacerate large animals that the current drags in.” – Sandra Salazar, microbiologist, Aeneid I
In reality, the pseudofungus is a farmer. Architect cells lay down the calcium carbonate structures that give the razor reef its name. These normally divide mitotically to produce more of themselves, but waterborne chemical signals induce some of them to differentiate into shepherd cells and harvesters. Shepherd cells are responsible for tending the Dactylia herds. Dactylia agricolarum is another species of pseudofungus that filters decaying matter and plankton out of the water and concentrates it in finger-like protrusions of the cell membrane. Harvesters pluck these off and feed them to the architect cells so they can continue to build and reproduce.
In this image, all three cell types are visible. Architects are secreting a combination of minerals and glue to build up the structure’s edge. When they are near death, their cytoskeletons will harden into diamond-shaped barbs that give the razor its cutting edge. A single harvester (middle left) is in the process of swallowing a D. agricolarum finger with one of its antennae. This one is eating for itself. If it were harvesting for the architects, it would attach the fingers to membrane proteins specialized for this purpose. Meanwhile, the shepherds are busy fending off a predatory bacterioid that is plaguing their herd. They do so by cleaving off individual cells and flinging them into the current. The bacterioids don’t mind this treatment, however; it helps them disperse.