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Adeptus Mechanicus Data Files
Respiration Of Tyranids in Low Pressure and Oxygen Deficient Atmospheres
From a request by: Brigadier General Berdan, 15th Lavarikian Rifles
Greetings once more General, I am pleased that our information helpful to you in this situation. Your subsequent Question about the respiration of tyranidic organisims requires a significant response. For in this the tyranids surpass any known creature in terms of scope and adaptablity. What follows in an excerpt from a classified file.
The need for all living things to respire is universal whether performed directly by the organisim or it's host repiration is required to maintain biological functions. However the modes of respiration employed are nearly endless. The tyranids, on the whole, exhibit a startling and disturbing variety of metabolic mechanisms to ensure respiration is affective and possible in nearly all known atmospheres. This indicates that throughout the eons of evolution the tyranids have absorbed and encountered creatures, which require vastly differing biological means by which to sustain life. Certain cells within the tyranid organism are critical to many biological adaptations. These Phage cells were originally thought to be an anti-toxin component, this was due to the affects they have on many compounds that are recognized toxins in other creatures. Subsequent and ongoing investigation into this shows that these cells have startling characteristics.
"Phage" cells, a misnomer attributed to our early studies, are the metabolic panacea of the tyranids. Intensive study has shown these cells are capable of surviving extremes of pressure [<0.01 to 10 ATM], extremes of temperature [-80 C to 165 C] sustained, and significant radiation dosing. At any one time only 12-18% of the cells receptors and chromosomes appear to be active. Conditions however change which portions of the cell functions allowing the cell itself (separate from cerebral control) to adapt to perform it's myriad of roles in vastly differing conditions.
Phage cells as catalysts of respiration
MB Lambshead has found evidence that the respiration of tyranids also includes chemoautotrophic and photosynthetic qualities, meshed into the redundent biomechanisms.
Unique metabolic Strategies which afford tyranids significant advantages in dealing with metabolic byproducts such as fatigue toxins: Excerpt: Tyranid Hard vacuum metabolic study.
Subject: Termagauntus Hormaguantii [hormagaunt]
Given other types of atmospheres (methane based/ammoina based) to breath the creature will adapt in similar ways switching acidity and receptors within the redundant biology to make use of the primary respirant and the byproduct alternately until the its energy reserves fail due to lack of caloric input.
Genestealer infestations upon drifting hulks must be making use of this mechanism to survive the hundreds of years between waking moments.
[This biological mechanism is similar to energy cells that cycle to prolong useful life Keplar]
I trust this information will be of some value in your efforts if nothing else to avoid wasted effort in futile tactics.
Master Apothicariate Curairus