Predation and Containment 844 - The Fungus Among Us
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From the desk of Dr. Roti Myco

Abstract


SCP-844, henceforth referred to as the entity, is an ambush predator that relies on auditory stimuli to attract prey. The entity has been known to consume a variety of organisms, including humans, but has consumed only bovines following Foundation containment. The entity is composed of skeletal remains of prey, miscellaneous sediments and a previously unclassified 'fungal' organism.

Current Special Containment Procedures are dangerous and result in unnecessary loss of life and limb during the monthly size reduction. With the goal of reducing the number of preventable causalities, tests have been completed to investigate the identity, importance and behavior of the fungal organism that partially comprises the entity.

Sample colonies of the unknown organism were cultured; then morphological data and phylogenetic data was collected to find similarities between the entity and known species. Behavioral testing was performed using sterilized samples of the entity that lacked the unknown organism and compared to unsterilized samples to find the roles filled by the organism and the processes employed when capturing prey.

Initial testing resulted in significant variations from all known species; however, comparisons with 'slime molds', single-celled colonial Protists, revealed similarities with the Labyrinthulea classification. Morphological testing confirmed this classification, examination reveals cells travelling along a membrane network that is a common feature of the Labyrinthulea classification.

Due to the newly found data, it is my opinion that the information contained in the SCP-844 datasheet should be updated to reflect the updated information. Additionally, further experimentation should be conducted to discover an anti-protist agent(s) to be used in the event of a containment breach and to replace the current practice of manual size reduction.

Keywords

SCP-844, Phylogenetics, Protist, Labyrinthulea, Slime Molds, Containment, Morphological, Microbiology, Predatory

Introduction


Containment procedures for Safe-Class entities are revised and updated less than 3 times a decade, creating unsafe environments for Foundation personnel and D-Class alike. These unsafe conditions have led to aging infrastructure among Safe-Level containment zones, and an average of 2 casualties per Safe-Class entity.

SCP-844 specifically has taken the lives of 5 D-Class, and injured 6, over the last decade. These needless costs to the Foundation can be stopped through thorough examination of dangerous entities and their Special Containment Procedures. Most casualties have occurred during the 'monthly shearing' procedure, detailed as follows (Hyne 2011):

Each month, SCP-844 is to be reduced in size by two (2) D-class personnel using shears.
Any personnel entering SCP-844's containment chamber must wear a protective suit in order to prevent injury or death.

If research is conducted to increase the available information related to SCP-844, then safer containment options can be chosen with updated, accurate information.

Genetic tests were performed due to their standardized nature and frequent use in other phylogeny studies. Morphological tests provided a confirmation of the genetic results and compared the expressed anatomy of the organism with known organisms.

Materials and Methods


1. Materials and Organisms Used

  • SCP-844 (Entity information found in the SCP-844 Datasheet)
  • 297 Genetic Sequences of Example Slime Mold Species (List of Species located in SCP-844 Study 23 Datasheet)
  • FSSA (Foundation Standard Sequencing Apparatus)
  • Treegen 4.3
  • Compound Light Microscopes (40x-1000x)
  • Microscope Slides

2. Phylogenetic Testing

297 sets of DNA markers were obtained from sample organisms of slime molds; accounting for most species of both the non-amoebozoan slime molds, Dictyosteliida and Protosteloid groups, and a sufficient number of Myxogastria to determine common ancestry. Genetic samples were obtained through tissues preserved by contacts with researchers specializing in slime molds located in Hokkaido University and The University of the West of England.

Using FSSA the genetic information of the entity was recovered from samples obtained during monthly trimmings. The entity's cells were separated from those of it's prey's remains by beginning cultures of the samples, and using standard streaking procedure to isolate the proper culture.

Finally, Bootstrapping procedures were performed using commercial software (TreeGen 4.3) and repeated 1000 times with each sample to form a set of phylogentic trees. Any trees that failed to occur with more than 90% repetition were discarded, and an initial figure was generated based on this information. This smaller pool was then subjected to a repeat test, the most common results (>98% repetition) were accepted as the final datasets, and a graphic was regenerated using this information.

3. Morphological Testing

In order to ensure genetic testing was consistent with the physical structures expressed in the entity, morphological testing was conducted to further support the finalized phylogentic trees. The focus of these experiments were to locate a tube network, fruiting body, or pseudopodia structures; any of which would be sufficient to establish which grouping the entity is likely to belong to.

100 live samples of the entity were isolated and examined using compound light microscopes at 1000x magnification, notable structures were then photographed and recorded for analysis.

Results


The results output from the TreeGen program show that the entity has a genetic makesup that is most similar to the Labyrinthulea group of slime molds, with a 98.6% recurrence rate. Results indicating the relations between non-anomalous slime mold species are concurrent with known studies on the topic, and given its irrelevance to the entity, the data has been excluded from this article.

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Photos of a SCP-844 cell (Left) and a Labyrinthulea cell (Right)

Morphological analysis found examples of plasmoidal tube networks extending between colonies of the entity, with similar structure to those found in Labyrinthulea. However, these networks varied in that they were procedure in greater numbers and appear to act as methods of locomotion in of themselves, rather than simply acting as pathways for the colonial cells to travel along.

Discussion


Given the newly found identity of the entity; I formally request that the information contained in the SCP-844 Datasheet and Containment Procedures are reconstructed to correctly represent the nature of the anomaly we are containing to limit misinformation and dangers posed by misled protocol.

1. Suggested Containment Procedures

(Updated language has been bolded, removed text has been crossed out)
SCP-844 is currently contained at Site ██. SCP-844 is to be contained in a well-lit chamber measuring 6m x 6m and provided with one (1) bovine each month specialized nutritional agar in accordance with Nutrition Chart 844-2. Each month, SCP-844 is to be reduced in size by two (2) D-class personnel using shears using regular treatments of the anti-protist agent pentamidine.

Any personnel entering SCP-844's containment chamber must wear a protective suit in order to prevent injury or death.

2. Rationale

Results indicate a possible vulnerability to anti-protist agents commonly used on non-anomalous varieties of protist, given the strong connection between SCP-844 and known slime molds. Pentamidine is the most likely choice of anti-protist agent, as it inhibits the production of lipids (Lemke 2013). Once these lipids were slowed or stopped in production, the plasma membranes making up the tube systems could not be formed, limiting the size of the entity.

These restrictions would immobilize the entity beyond cellular locomotion, preventing it from using the plasmid tubes as a muscular system. The reduction in size weakens the entity so that future attacks against Foundation personnel are nonlethal, if they are successful. This would allow further research and safe containment of SCP-844, without needing to neutralize the entity or risking lives of additional personnel.

Finally, the exchange of bovine food sources in exchange for a specialized nutritional agar prevents SCP-844 from utilizing its prey's skeletal system as weaponry, providing an additional containment system by disarming the entity on top of its weakened state.

3. Further Discussion

In order to achieve the Special Containment Procedures I currently recommend, further research should be conducted over the following topics: the efficacy of anti-protist agents; the nutritional requirements of the entity; and the importance of prey material to the entity.

Despite the close relationship between the entity and several species in which Pentamidine have proven to be effective in; it may prove to be excessively effective or ineffective, resulting in the neutralization or failed containment of SCP-844 if a relationship is not established. Other agents should additionally be explored to ensure alternative options if Pentamidine becomes ineffective over time.

In order to establish a proper mix of nutrients to replace the current bovine food stocks, the nutrients that the entity requires must first be established. The proper nutritional mixture is important to ensure that the entity is capable of surviving on the provided substrate, and that they aren't provided with an excess of food that may drive them to grow excessively.

Prey material has already been established as a valuable tool in SCP-844's hunting strategies. However, the structural benefits the entity gains apart from these strategies has not been explored. This line of research could lead to discoveries in beneficial construction strategies for the Foundation to use. In the matter at hand, we can use this information to find if the transition from bovine to agar food sources is practical for the entity's survival.

Conclusion


In an attempt to identify the unknown fungal entity comprising SCP-844, this experiment was conducted to establish genetic and morphological links to the protist groups colloquially known as 'slime molds'. Data found shows that the genetics of SCP-844 are most similar to the Labyrinthulea classification, with morphological studies confirming this with the presence of locomotive tubes surrounding individual cells. Using this data, I urge that the aforementioned changes are made, and further research conducted to preserve the lives of D-Class and Foundation personnel alike, while simultaneously expanding the knowledge of the Foundation.

Literature Cited


Hyne, T. (2011, October 7). SCP-844 Datasheet. Retrieved October 22, 2019, from http://www.scp-wiki.net/scp-844.

Lemke TL, Williams DA, eds. (2013). Foye's Principles of Medicinal Chemistry (Seventh ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Leander, C. (2009). Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6459248

Aszakal.(2008). Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4662628

Pentamidine. (2019, September 23). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentamidine#cite_note-:6-17.

Slime mold. (2019, October 26). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slime_mold.

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