Generation V brought a lot of new Pokemon with it, some of which were based on non-animal designs. While Pokemon such as Vanillux, Chandelure and Trubbish were based on inanimate objects, the designers did something fun and based one line of Pokemon on a biological process.
Solosis, Duosion and Reuniclus were based on the cellular process of Mitosis or the formation of a baby, causing me to have an immediate affection for these little green blobs.
So what is the process of mitosis?
As many of you will have learned in school, mitosis refers to cellular division. In order for the body to grow or repair itself, new cells must be made that contain the same genetic information as the rest of the body. One of the most important components of the cell is the nucleus, which is the “brain” of the cell and holds the genomes. The genome contains all the genetic information that each cell needs in order to process properly, so it is important that new cells have a copy of this genome.
The cell starts off as a stem cell with a full genome, which is comprised of pairs chromosomes (called diploid cells). These chromosomes are replicated inside the cell, so that the cell contains two complete sets of the genome. Cellular mechanisms then pull these genomes away from each other, so they are on opposite sides of the cell. From there, each is contained within a nuclear envelope. A process called cytokinesis then splits the single cell in two, making two identical copies (if nothing goes wrong). These stem cells may choose to undergo some more mitosis, or differential into somatic cells. Somatic cells are the cells that make up almost all of our body and tissue, such as liver cells or skin cells. This is the process of Mitosis, where a genome creates a copy of itself. It is different from Meiosis, where a genome duplicates and then halves itself.
Mitosis is very important in how babies grow and happens AFTER the parent cells have experiences meiosis to produce sperm and eggs. First of all, a sperm and an egg fuse, making a cell called a zygote. This single cell will undergo a lot of rounds of mitosis and cell differentiation, eventually allowing the embryo to grow into a fully formed baby. The embryo is suspended in an amniotic fluid, which keeps the baby from bumping around too much. This is what is released when a pregnant mother’s “water breaks”.
Now, back to Pokemon!
Solosis is possibly the representation of a single cell, prior to mitotic division. Its head looks like a nucleus, and it is encased inside a green liquid that may represent to cytoplasm (the liquid and organelles inside a cell). Duosion is also encased in a cytoplasmic-like substance. It has two little bumps on its bottom half, a separate bobble above its head, and a series of lines down its face. It also has two independent brains. These seem to suggest it is at the stage where the genome has been duplicated, but has not been separated. Reuniclus has long arms that contain lots of little balls, and a line down the middle of its head, presumably between its two brains. This seems as though it is the stage of mitosis where the chromosomes are being pulled to opposite ends of the cell, and the cell is beginning to be divided.
Alternatively, these Pokémon could represent the different stages of embryonic growth of babies. Solosis may be the zygote, the tiny little cell that is the result of an egg and sperm fusing. Duosion seems to have little arms, much like a foetus in the early stages of development. Reuniclues may represent the more developed foetus, more like the ones we see in ultrasounds. But babies don’t usually have two brains, you say?
Occasionally, the zygote will get a little confused when it is replicating itself, and instead of replicating cells that remained joined to it to form the embryo, it completely replicates itself into another zygote, resulting in two genetically identical embryos. Usually, these grow up into identical twins. However, sometimes if single embryo is old enough (around 13 days old) it will try to fully replicate itself and run into complications. On rare occasions, this complication will be that the embryos do not completely separate, and it results in conjoined twins. These twins can have two separate, individually functioning brains.
Now comes the really big question; what IS Reuniclus? There is a big difference between an embryo and a cell undergoing mitosis, as one is a multicellular organism and the other happens within a single cells. Is Reuniclus a single celled organism or a multicellular organism? Is it a conjoined embryo with super brains, or the largest cell in the world?
Some unicellular organisms have cell organelles just like the cells in our body (Eukaryotic cells). They usually have a functioning nucleus and a few other organelles, but a few select species can have more than one nucleus (or other organelles) that float around in the cytoplasm of the cell. Some of the cells can grow quite large, and a few even look eerily like Solosis. Many unicellular organisms can survive extreme conditions (volcanoes, ocean vents, etc.), much like Reuniclus, “Because their bodies are enveloped in a special liquid, they are fine in any environment, no matter how severe” (B2W2). Furthermore, Reuniclus and Duosion have little parts of them that are separate but float around in their aqueous outer layer. Multicellular organisms don’t have separate bits that still function, but unicellular organisms have organelle that float around separately. Unicellular organisms can also live in large communities and communicate with each other, and “When Reuniclus shake hands, a network forms between their brains, increasing their psychic power”. Embryos don’t communicate, unless they are in the same uterus.
However, Duosion and Reuliclus both have two, fully formed and functioning brains. Unicellular organisms don’t have brains or nervous systems, and have very basic functionality (essentially they know to feed and reproduce). So it seems that the middle part, at least, is a multicellular organism.
The Pokedex speaks of the fluid surrounding its body as a separate fluid, so it’s possible that it isn’t part of the central organism. Maybe, Reuniclus is a multicellular organism that lives in a symbiotic relationship with a unicellular organism through psychic control, whereby Reuniclus receives protection. The little arm blobs may be cell organelle of the outer unicellular organism, but are still controlled by Reuniclus’s psychic powers.
Alternatively, the liquid that encases Reuniclus is cytoplasm that does not belong to another organism, and the arm blobs are just floating body parts. Cytosol, the gel-like component of the cytoplasm, maintains structure of the cell as well allowing diffusion of different beneficial molecules. Some people have even proposed that cytosol can adopt a solid or glass like state when necessary. Considering Reuniclus can “crush boulders psychically” with its arms, they may actually be cytoplasm. Amniotic fluid only protects the baby from minor environmental changes, but is mostly to stop the baby from bouncing around too much, so Reuniclus is unlikely to use it. I think this may be the mostly likely theory about what Reuniclus is. Of course, it may just be that Reuniclus, a multicellular organism, has coated itself in some unknown, non-organic substance that never stagnates or evaporates and its arm blobs are just bits of its disconnected body.
Whatever Reuniclus is made of, it is a fantastic homage to science!