The study of cells: their physiological properties, structure, environmental interaction, division, life cycle, and death, as well as the organelles they contain. Also known as cytology.

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818 views

What is itching?

What exactly at the molecular level is itching? What physiological function does itching serve, if any? I cant remember the reference but a PLCb3 null mice lost the itch phenotype, so presumably it is ...
28
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1answer
492 views

How does a cell know its size?

Cells come in all sorts of sizes. How do they regulate their cell size to the point where similar cell types have a fairly mono-disperse size distribution? Reasked from ...
27
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2answers
2k views

Can brain cells move?

I was discussing this with my brother. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that they can move. Thanks EDIT: By movement I mean long distance migration (preferably within the brain only).
27
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1answer
991 views

How long will a vegetable live for after being harvested?

I understand this might depend on the types of vegetables, but is there an average or studied specifics? Does it die immediately? Is there a way to precisely diagnose death in plants? If so, what are ...
21
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1answer
601 views

Are lymphocyte sizes clustered in two groups?

Tortora writes in Principles of Anatomy and Physiology: Lymphocytes may be as small as 6–9 μm in diameter or as large as 10–14 μm in diameter. Those ranges are quite close to each others. Should ...
20
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3answers
297 views

How crowded is the bacterial cell?

I was wondering what is the protein concentration in an E. coli cell. When studying enzyme kinetics and activity in vitro, I would argue that the substrate and enzyme concentrations resemble those in ...
19
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1answer
498 views

Natural examples of XOR functions at the cellular level

We can often think of cells as a sort of circuit on macromolecules, and can show that they can accurately and robustly implement functions like $\text{MAJ}(x_1,...,x_n)$ (return $1$ if more than half ...
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2answers
2k views

Is there an advantage to linear chromosomes?

The DNA copying enzymes have a hard time working to the end of a chromosome. For circular chromosomes this is not a problem, since there is not a sharp 'end'. However, for a linear chromosome, without ...
14
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6answers
1k views

Online Molecular and Cellular Biology Video Lectures?

I am looking for video lectures to go through to guide my reading in intro molecular and cellular biology. I've had intro bio and I study evolutionary theory, but my molecule- and cell-level knowledge ...
14
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4answers
2k views

Why would a single celled organism evolve to be multi-celled?

I read a story this week on Richard Lenski who has been 'evolving' E. coli for more than 50,000 generations now. One comment I read was from someone who doesn't accept Evolution who pointed out that ...
13
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1answer
490 views

The Origin of Mitochondria

For a long time I've just accepted, because it is just what everyone told me, that mitochondria became organelles in the cell when they were "engulfed" by another cell which acted like it's host. This ...
13
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1answer
109 views

Does a theory exist for the formation of thylakoid structure?

I'm interested in how the structure of the thylakoid forms into its characteristic highly rugose stacks of grana. What causes the thylakoid to invaginate and self-associate, albeit with what appear to ...
12
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1answer
558 views

Did researchers evolve multicellular yeast or did they just turn on multicellularity?

In this new paper "Experimental evolution of multicellularity" found via Ars Technica the researchers describe having developed multicellularity and apoptosis within 60 days from a unicellular yeast ...
12
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2answers
32k views

How many human cells are there in our body, on average?

How many human cells are there in our body, on average? Wikipedia says 1013: Bacterial cells are much smaller than human cells, and there are at least ten times as many bacteria as human cells in ...
11
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3answers
3k views

Why do red blood cells contain haemoglobin and not myoglobin?

So I am reading about muscles and I come across myoglobin. It has a much higher affinity for oxygen than haemoglobin. So why have animals evolved to have haemoglobin in red blood cells, rather than ...
11
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1answer
551 views

Does electricity cause damage on a cellular level?

As I understand it the mechanism of death when a mammal is electrocuted is that the current disrupts the SAN/AVN in the heart causing it to fibrilate or arrest. That's on a macro scale, however. ...
11
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1answer
16k views

How to store vegetables in the refrigerator: In plastic bags or not?

My wife and I are having a debate similar to this one: I claim that it's better to take the fresh veggies out of the bags and put them in the crisper with humidity control because: That's what the ...
10
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3answers
3k views

Was the mitochondrion or chloroplast first?

I still don't know if the mitochondrion or chloroplast was first? I've looked for it on the internet and in various books but haven't found anything. Does anyone have the answer and a theory which ...
10
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2answers
622 views

Could hydrogen replace oxygen in cellular respiration?

I was wondering what oxygen actually does in the body. I have seen a few answers to other questions that involve the electron chain and I am really not sure what that is. So I was wondering what ...
10
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4answers
1k views

Does pheomelanin have a useful biological function?

Melanin is a natural pigment that is categorized into two main forms, eumelanin and pheomelanin. It's well documented in the science literature that increased eumelanin levels reduces the risk of ...
10
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1answer
2k views

Is the eukaryotic nucleus composed of a single or double membrane?

I know that it is usually considered a double membrane like those surrounding mitochondria and chloroplasts, but I read a review that stated "according to topological details it is actually a single ...
10
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1answer
674 views

Do larger multicellular organisms have an increased risk of mutation and thus cancer?

So I was thinking that if each cell has P(X) of becoming cancerous, then the chance of cancer is 1-((1-P(X))^n) where n is the number of cells in the organism. Since larger organisms have more cells ...
9
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3answers
2k views

Does a man contain all the genes needed to make a woman?

This question is brought on by a Sci Fi novel I am thinking about writing. The plot device involves a colonist in charge of building a population on a new planet who loses his supply of embryos and so ...
9
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2answers
3k views

Why is saltatory conduction faster than continuous conduction?

How does spacing apart sodium and potassium channels allow the action potential to travel faster down the axon? This is the reason always cited for saltatory conduction and myelination, but my mental ...
9
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1answer
710 views

Why doesn't the cell membrane just… break apart?

Forgive me if this is a silly question. I can't understand the basics. Why doesn't the membrane just... break apart? What's keeping the layers in the phopholipid bilayer together? I know that the ...
9
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1answer
795 views

What is a inhibitory tone when talking about neurons?

In this SE answer: Could an "overactive" brain increase the chances of Alzheimer's Disease? user @nico used the word inhibitory tone What does that ...
9
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2answers
147 views

How much energy does a cell expend maintaining its contents?

In software engineering, an analogy is sometimes made using biological cells. I would like to know whether it has basis in fact. People say (Alan Kay was first) that "objects" in software should be ...
9
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1answer
358 views

How is the number of mitochondria in a cell regulated?

How does the cell regulate the number of mitochondria in a cell? What happens when there are too many or too few?
9
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1answer
122 views

What are the costs associated with carrying lots of genetic material

What are the costs (if any) associated with carrying lots of genetic material (Big genome size)? energy for copying? raw material for copying? space in the cell? Maintenance cost (matter and ...
9
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2answers
1k views

Why can't a human regenerate limbs like some other species?

When a person's arm is amputated, the arm will no longer be able to grow back. However, in salamanders, the arm actually grows back. In comparison to a human, what is really happening to the cells ...
8
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3answers
591 views

What triggers meiosis in gonadal cells?

What specific biochemical processes are involved in inducing meiosis rather than mitosis? Why are gonadal cells the only cells in the human body which do undergo meiosis?
8
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1answer
1k views

Can you consider a human as alive, or is it the cells on the body that are alive?

Sorry if this question seems strange, but in the recent time I have been interested in the question of what life is and how you can define life. My question: How long can individual cells live on a ...
8
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1answer
355 views

Does DNA contain information beyond protein synthesis?

It's well known that genetic information is stored in DNA. As far as I know, DNA only has information at the protein level. What about higher levels, such as organelles, cells, tissue, organs? Is ...
8
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1answer
220 views

Single long axon vs serial neurons

Based on the comments in this post and also this chat. For discussions and speculations please comment in the chat. The basic question is what is the advantage of having a single long axon such as ...
8
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1answer
296 views

What's the difference between growing cells in culture and cloning them?

The wikipedia page on Hela cells refers to George Gey being able "to isolate one specific cell, multiply it, and start a cell line." Later it says, "In 1955 HeLa cells were the first human cells ...
8
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2answers
3k views

why is AUG the initiation codon?

Is there any reason why AUG is the initiation codon ? Why is there a need for an initiation codon ? Can't translation start with different codons?
8
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1answer
133 views

What specific membrane adaptations do cells have for saline-rich environs?

Are the cells of marine animals and flora equipped with special ion exchange pumps to mitigate the effects of a saline-rich environment? Or have the cell's membranes adapted through structural ...
8
votes
1answer
116 views

Can a human cell live indefinetely in a controlled environment?

How long can a human cell live in a controlled environment, given all necessary nutrients, temperatures, mechanisms for waste removal, and other requirements are provided for? Put differently: Can a ...
8
votes
1answer
218 views

Can a bacteriophage be used to treat bacterial diseases?

Some bacteriophages reproduce using the lytic cycle which ends with the destruction of the host bacterial cell. I was wondering if theoretically this could be used theraputically to treat bacterial ...
8
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1answer
537 views

Why aren't mitochondria and plastids considered symbiotes of eukaryotic cells?

Mitochondria and plastids have their own DNA, their own membranes, and their reproduction is not tied to the reproductive cycle of the host cell. However, they are considered to be organelles rather ...
8
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1answer
5k views

Why is ATP the preferred choice for energy carriers?

Why is ATP the most prevalent form of chemical energy storage and utilization in most cells?
8
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2answers
137 views

Should we induce fever to assist healing?

I am currently reading "The Fundamentals of Anatomy Physiology" 10th edition, and have found it an incredibly interesting book. I have just been reading about the lymphatic system, and the various ...
8
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1answer
885 views

Does every mitochondrion in a cell contain the same DNA?

I know that mitochondria of eukaryotes have their own DNA, more similar to that of bacteria than to the rest of the cell's DNA. I also know that a cell can have plenty of mitochondria, and I ...
8
votes
1answer
108 views

Pancretic Acinar Cell - ATP, calcium concentration data

I need to find a decent source of data for concentration of ATP and calcium in the pancreatic acinar cell. So far all I can find is ATP or calcium 'levels' based on fluorescence , which are not ...
8
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1answer
86 views

What is the difference between organelle membranes?

Cells and organelles are contained in lipid bilayers. I'm particularly interested in eukaryotic organelle bilayers and the biophysicochemical differences between them. Many papers assume a ...
7
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4answers
194 views

How does an embryo know where to grow limbs etc

For example you have a cell or already a bunch of cells. Those cell(s) divide and after several week you have a grown organism, for example a human with limbs, several different organs etc. However, ...
7
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1answer
601 views

X chromosome “weight”?

According to Wikipedia, the X chromosome has approximately 153 million base pairs, while the Y chromosome has only 60 million base pairs. Thus, the difference is roughly 93 million base pairs. My ...
7
votes
1answer
479 views

Are pulp cells (in oranges) normal plant cells?

Does a pulp cell contain all the elements that a 'normal' plant cell contains? I've searched for an hour to find more information about this but couldn't find anything useful. Is the pulp cell the ...
7
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1answer
2k views

Why aren't organelles considered alive?

I'm taking a 3-week Bio I summer course, and my textbook says the cell is the smallest/basic unit of life. I asked my professor why organelles aren't a living unit, and her reply was that they aren't ...
7
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2answers
216 views

Is “exhaustion” of the Hodgkin-Huxley membrane at constant stimulation a real phenomenon?

I was playing around with a simulation of the Hodgkin-Huxley model using their original parameters for the squid giant axon. By applying a constant stimulation current to the model in resting state, ...