A genomili is an aquatic crustacean native to Evermorn that is distantly related to the better-known abyssal isopod. Genomili occupy an important niche in the Cobalt Protectorate as livestock, experimental animals, indicator species, and sometimes aquatic pets.
A genomili is morphologically difficult to distinguish from certain other aquatic isopods except in its size and color. The animal is generally oblong with a short, broad fluke at the caudal extent to allow for for swimming. It is capable of curling into a ball if threatened, presenting its segmented dorsal armor to would-be predators. A genomili may be dark brown, red, purple, or blue in color depending on the clarity and salinity of its native waterway, and it measures up to a foot in length.
Genomili have an unusually well-developed immune system in comparison to their supposed Terran ancestors, an adaptation evolved in response to living in suboptimal water conditions and eating aquatic carrion. A genomili exposed to pathogens produces enormous quanitites of antibodies and, after a subsequent molt, changes color in response to the specific pathogen it has most recently been exposed to. Genomili feeding patterns and reproduction rates are directly tied to water quality, making them useful indicator species in natural - and, increasingly, spaceborne artificial - aquatic ecosystems.
Ecology and Habitats
Genomili can live in both fresh and salt water and are highly tolerant to pollution of most sorts. They generally live along the bottom of whatever body they occupy and survive as detritivores.
Genomili are, like most crustaceans, not terribly expressive. However, their bright coloration, ease of care, and usefulness as indicator species in tank environments (see Biological Traits) make them popular pets. Genomili destined for aquariums are generally bred for reduced size. Improper disposal of genomili will provoke fines in most jurisdictions, as this is a common means by which the creatures find their way into waterways where they hadn't previously existed.
Uses, Products & Exploitation
Genomili are caught wild as foodstuffs on Evermorn, where they occupy a culinary niche similar to that of crab, langostino, and shrimp. Many are also cultivated in fisheries and factory farms, where their ability to subside on almost any organic matter and tremendous resistance to pathogens make them profitable as livestock. In modern times, starships, cyclers, and space stations large enough to utilize aquaponics in their closed ecological life support systems (CELSS) almost always include genomili among their aquaponics complement. In this application, the genomili are closely observed by the ship's life support officer and biologist for changes which might indicate problems with the system; changes in color, lethargy, deeper tracks chewed into the algae mats at the bottom, and reduced fecundity can all be signs of water pollution that might otherwise go unnoticed. On interstellar missions, bioengineered genomili also serve an important role as incubators for antibodies for innoculations against foreign pathogens. These genomili contain a combination of humanoid cell grafts and genetically-modified cells that produce the same protiens as those of the humanoid crew. By exposing these genomili to the alien environment and then collecting blood samples, their prodigious quanities of antibodies can be harvested to produce immunoglobulin for vaccines. In general, anything that can actually make the genomili mortally ill despite its natural gifts will require something more advanced than a vaccine (nanotechnology, filtration, cybernetic augmentation, gene therapy, and so forth) to cure should it enter the shipboard population. The Cobalt Protectorate keeps huge stocks of these genomili at foreign outposts like the Execution Hill Launch Complex on Lepidos and Seaborne Hopes on Feldea to provide protection to their non-human allies from any pathogens the Evermornans might inadvertently introduce to the environment.
Genomili are ubiquitous and may be found even in the most murky, stagnant, and polluted waters. Like wild boars, they can become invasive in some contexts due to their omnivorous nature and incredible resistance to pathogens. A system of controls are in place on most Protectorate-held worlds to prevent both over-fishing of the valuable creatures and the their spread to otherwise virgin waterways.