StarCraft® II

Zerg Genetics

This here is a summation of everything I know about the deeper genetic workings of the zerg race.

We start with a zerg larva, a tiny little creature that contains the "Source Code" DNA for each zerg strain in existance (Including buildings). Over the cource of zerg evolution, the source code will change, but it will still remain somewhat similar to the original creature it coded for. It is this source code that separates zerglings from hydralisks and hydralisks from roaches etc., and provides the basic charecteristics of the said zergling.

When given an order from an overlord, the larva "throws out" the unneeded DNA and focuses on replicating the desired DNA code (In this case, a Hydralisk). It then forms a protective shell around itself using nutrients obtained from creep. The larva's cells separate into two groups, Type A cells and Type B cells. Type A cells will take the Hydralisk source code and make random mutations to it. Type B cells will hunt down and destroy Type A cells which show faulty mutations. Eventually, one genetic code remains, one that has proved dominant over the rest, and this superior genome is what becomes the blueprint for the future hydralisk.

Now that all of the cellular competition is done, it is merely a matter of creep-fueled growth spurts and rapid tissue development before the said hydralisk is finished. The hydralisk exits out of the egg fully formed and fully mature, ready to spit needle spines at something.

As an added benefit of this developmental process, the hydralisk is genetically different from the one next to it, as a result of the randomness in the process. This ensures genetic variation, eliminating the need for reproduction.

Because of the resulting genetic variation, some hydralisks are better suited for battle than others. The weaker hydralisks die off easier than hydralisks with mutations that aid them in battle. This ensures that natural selection also plays a role in zerg evolution.

Drones carry on the larva's ability to morph. Like the larvae, drones contain a large genetics library that can be accessed on command and used to construct buildings.

If a certain zerg's genetic code is exceptionally well written with extremely beneficial mutations, the zerg swarm might choose to rewrite (or update) the source code for that zerg strain or create a new source code, whichever one is more tactically viable. This is why there is a distinction between hydralisks and hunter-killers. The hydralisk's genetic code codes for proteins that are easy to build and still effective. The hunter-killer's proteins are better, but harder to build, so that is why they are classified as a seperate strain.

If anybody has anything to add, please do not hesitate to do so. It tends to be hard to sum up every last shred of detail in one post.
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This is really cool , I like your use of "source Code". I see many similarities between the zerg and the machines from the matrix suprisingly , the zerg were created by humans as a biological weapon right?
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Come on, you've got it all wrong. Example:
To build a hydralisk, you have to fit 20 loads of minerals and 10 loads of vespene in the egg. It is not fueled by creep in any way (except for keeping it alive in the non-morphing state) All the tech buildings do is increase the capacity of these eggs so you can stuff more resources in. The part where I'm confused is when the minerals turn into zerglings.
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Come on, you've got it all wrong. Example:
To build a hydralisk, you have to fit 20 loads of minerals and 10 loads of vespene in the egg. It is not fueled by creep in any way (except for keeping it alive in the non-morphing state) All the tech buildings do is increase the capacity of these eggs so you can stuff more resources in. The part where I'm confused is when the minerals turn into zerglings.

Why troll a story post?
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06/18/2012 10:25 AMPosted by rimmyjaynor
the zerg were created by humans as a biological weapon right?


No, they were created by the Xel'Naga, though were eventually used as a biological weapon by the Terran by utilizing psy beacons.

About the OP's genetics stuff: I thought all the zerg were essentially clones of whatever unit they mutated into, and that the actual "evolution" of the zerg was somehow done by Cerebrates/the Overmind/Kerrigan by finding a host species and integrating it into the swarm? Never read any books or anything on it though, so I guess I could be wrong.
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Because of the resulting genetic variation, some hydralisks are better suited for battle than others. The weaker hydralisks die off easier than hydralisks with mutations that aid them in battle. This ensures that natural selection also plays a role in zerg evolution.


What went wrong since the Brood War that made hydralisk terrible?
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06/17/2012 10:13 PMPosted by EugeneTwo
This here is a summation of everything I know about the deeper genetic workings of the zerg race.


Oh goody. As a grad student in biology, this should be interesting.

first paragraph


Basically true in non technical terms, I suppose. Differences in DNA is what differentiates species.

It then forms a protective shell around itself using nutrients obtained from creep.


Creatures do do this in the actual world, but obviously nowhere near as quickly. It takes a long time and a lot of energy to develop hardened shells.

The larva's cells separate into two groups, Type A cells and Type B cells. Type A cells will take the Hydralisk source code and make random mutations to it. Type B cells will hunt down and destroy Type A cells which show faulty mutations. Eventually, one genetic code remains, one that has proved dominant over the rest, and this superior genome is what becomes the blueprint for the future hydralisk.


Big problems here. First, just call it Hydralisk DNA. No need to keep calling it "source code" as DNA is the code from which organisms are formed. Secondly, cells are formed from replication instructions encoded in DNA; you're saying that "source code" DNA is used to make hydralisk "type A" cells, which in turn "make mutations" to the code that just spawned those cells. Mutations are mechanistic random mistakes in the replication of DNA caused by errors of the molecules doing the copying, they are not intentionally caused by any agent. That would be genetic engineering, and cells themselves would not be the vector for this.

Thirdly, "hunting down" the first cell type by the second makes no sense. Concepts like "inferior" or "superior" are subjective assessments that cannot be carried out by cells. You could establish what genetic sequence of DNA is better than another, but only through "field testing," which is to say, if you have sucky DNA, you will more likely die in your environment than someone else that has DNA that gives them traits better suited to that environment. There is zero way for a cell to determine which Type A cells to kill, not only because there's no way for them to figure out what cells are more fit to the environment than others, but because you're not even letting those cells out into the world (i.e. after the hydra hatches) there's no way to even gather those data to begin with.

The "superior genome" is established through either evolution or genetic engineering. Evolution is genetic trial-by-fire: you see how well an individual with a certain genome fares in a certain kind of environment. Genetic engineering is the directed control or manipulation of that genome, but ultimately evolution will determine whether said manipulations were for better or worse for that given environment.
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As an added benefit of this developmental process, the hydralisk is genetically different from the one next to it, as a result of the randomness in the process.


Actually, this statement holds true for every single organism that has ever lived or ever will, with extremely rare exceptions for extremely few individuals belonging to a handful of species with extremely tiny genomes. Meaning this statement applies to every living thing everywhere.

Because of the resulting genetic variation, some hydralisks are better suited for battle than others. The weaker hydralisks die off easier than hydralisks with mutations that aid them in battle. This ensures that natural selection also plays a role in zerg evolution.


Well, yes, you've got this right. But this is what causes the hydralisk population to become better adapted "war machines," and not some arbitrary Type B cell kills Type A cell thing. Also mentioning this makes your whole Type A/B thing pointless.

The hydralisk's genetic code codes for proteins that are easy to build and still effective. The hunter-killer's proteins are better, but harder to build, so that is why they are classified as a seperate strain.


Again with the "better" description. When talking science, we try to avoid subjectivity. You can call it "better" only if you can define what "better" means. A "strain" applies to cells and vira, not organisms, but I suppose you could make the argument that all zerg is just a virus. However, they are not classified as separate because of different proteins, but because their DNA is significantly different.

---------

Now, I didn't write all of this to try and bash you or anything. You seem to have some very basic biological concepts grasped, but I just wanted to be a bit more enlightening as to what's technically wrong here. Now, for people that have no exposure to much biology, this is a big "so what" or "cool stuff" kind of post, but it's half basic biology and half technobabble. I'm hoping my explanations might be able to help you develop a better understanding so if you want to continue doing this, it progressively makes more "hard science" sense.
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I got most of this from Egon Stetmann. If you click on the zerg egg in his lab, he will share brief tidbits of information about it. As you gather more zerg research, the egg grows, and the descriptions change. Check up on the egg every so-often and you will see a similar story unfold.

The same holds true for the little protoss pylon in stetmann's lab too.
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In the very first zerg mission in SC1, one of the cerebrates refers to each zerg species as a strain, so that is where I got the term from.
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06/18/2012 10:25 AMPosted by rimmyjaynor
the zerg were created by humans as a biological weapon right?


In SC1 (Terran Campagn), when not-yet-emperor Mengsk learns of the confederacy's zerg research program, he believes that the zerg were created by the confeceracy and sent to Mar Sara as a weapons test. However, back then he did not know anything about zerg and thought wrong.

The original zerg were nothing more than some happy old insect species living on planet zerus. Then the xel'naga came and ascended the little fellas. The xel'naga also created the overmind so that the zerg do not have an aeon of strife like the protoss did. Then some unknown force caused the overmind to become evil and turn against the xel'naga, and later the protoss.

Rescently, we learned to call this force the "dark voice". We only see him in one of the SC2 WoL Protoss Missions.
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06/18/2012 04:44 PMPosted by EugeneTwo
I got most of this from Egon Stetmann.


Aha. Hence the technobabble that makes no sense. Now I know why. :)
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06/18/2012 04:55 PMPosted by EugeneTwo
the zerg were created by humans as a biological weapon right?


In SC1 (Terran Campagn), when not-yet-emperor Mengsk learns of the confederacy's zerg research program, he believes that the zerg were created by the confeceracy and sent to Mar Sara as a weapons test. However, back then he did not know anything about zerg and thought wrong.

The original zerg were nothing more than some happy old insect species living on planet zerus. Then the xel'naga came and ascended the little fellas. The xel'naga also created the overmind so that the zerg do not have an aeon of strife like the protoss did. Then some unknown force caused the overmind to become evil and turn against the xel'naga, and later the protoss.

Rescently, we learned to call this force the "dark voice". We only see him in one of the SC2 WoL Protoss Missions.


Bold section is untrue. If what I have gathered from the lore is correct the Zerg were designed to wipe out. The protoss and themselves so the xel'naga could start over with a more superior specimen which would be a zerg/toss hybrid species. Since the Zerg were ruled by the overmind and the Xel'naga kept him on a leash and he had limited free thinking, so he came up with a plan. He would infest a certain iconic being who could break free of the overmind and cerebrate's will and lead the zerg with their own intentions and not what the xel'naga has planned. This is why you can't kill said iconic person in SC2 single player. Zeratul stops Raynor and reveals this vision to him given to him from Tassadar after seeing the Overmind's master plan upon his death.

The overmind isn't evil. If it wasn't for him as the story goes so far every race would end in extinction with the Xel'Naga starting life over again.
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Well, maybe this will make more sense.

Instead of the Type B cells actively seeking and destroying Type A cells, it might be more of a case where the Type B cells provide competition for the Type A cells. As time goes by, the Type B cells grow more pervasive and start to eliminate various Type A cells, and as a general rule, the weakest are the first to go. The Type B cells stop once they have eliminated all but one genome, one that has survived their ever-growing pressure, and allow it to reproduce. This genome becomes the future hydralisk.

It makes a little more sense if you tweak the story to sound like that. Having Type B cells actively destroy Faulty Type A cells would require such complex chemical reactions that even the zerg cannot pull it off, or at least, with such speed. Thanks for pointing that out!
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No, complex chemical interactions aren't the problem, that stuff happens inside us every second of the day. Let's see if we can get to the point better in question form.

B cells kill A cells selectively. How do they select which ones to kill? You state they are "weaker" or less desirable in some way. How do these simple B cells determine which A cells are desirable? What constitutes a "strong" or "good" cell to keep? A cell that is difficult to destroy but has no involvement in offensive biological systems (think "armor cells") might be "strong," but what about the many other kinds of differentiated cells that are no doubt required for different systems (like neurological)? Such cells could be physically "weak" but highly necessary. How would B cells determine which of those are "better?" How would they selectively outcompete said cells if there are so many differentiated kinds, and if they can outcompete "weaker" A cells, why don't B cells simply do the A cells' jobs?
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How about we say that type A cells are undifferentiated zygote cells. In that case they are all treated equal by the type B cells. As the B cells grow more pervasive, type A cells die off, and the last one standing is usually the one with the best genome. THEN it starts differentiating.
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http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/5835836410

Amazingly, the first few posts on this topic might answer your question.
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Just an FYI, the original lore is that the Zerg Larva is the state that most resembles the original Zerg. While the Zerg were evolved by the Xel'Naga. The Overmind was as well created by the Xel'Naga. As well, each structure accesses the Overminds library, allowing that particular Hive Cluster to construct the things that the structure enabled.

If a Hive builds a Hydralisk Den, then that Hydralisk Den accesses the Overmind and allows the Larva to mutate into a Hydralisk.

The rest of the stuff you said is cool. =D
Edited by Templarfreak on 6/20/2012 1:11 PM PDT
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http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/5835836410

Amazingly, the first few posts on this topic might answer your question.


Well they know what they're talking about for sure, but it doesn't clear up the Type A/B issue that I mentioned here. I'll bring the discussion to that thread, though.
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It sounds like you know a lot about the zerg. I like how you talk about each "Hydralisk" is unique from others because of the A cell mutations. but is that true? Im talking about when playing as the Zerg in campaign or skirmish mods in the game. Will a Zerg have some stronger or weaker stats? If not wish they did that would be a cool add on having each unit with stronger or weaker stats.
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