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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905 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 ...
31
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1answer
522 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 ...
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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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2answers
5k views

Why do tattoos persist if body cells are regularly renewed?

I am not quite sure if it is true, but I read somewhere that within 7 years all the body's cells are replaced with new ones. I am not quite sure if it is cells or atoms. If it is then why do tattoos ...
27
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1answer
1k 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
622 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
312 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
527 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 ...
16
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2answers
3k 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 ...
15
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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 ...
14
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6answers
2k 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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2answers
36k 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 ...
13
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1answer
675 views

Can an organism exist as a single cell but come together as multi-cellular during certain times?

I am trying to remember a particular segment from a BBC special, in which there was single cellular species. However, at certain times all the individual cells came together to form a structure, not ...
13
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1answer
612 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
113 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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3answers
2k views

What is happening when we get a tan?

Almost everyone nowadays wants that nice summer tan, but what exactly is going on beneath the skin? I've heard a few different theories about tanning - such as a tan is nothing but the pigmentation in ...
12
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1answer
579 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 ...
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
602 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
19k 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
4k 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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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 ...
10
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2answers
649 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
2k 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
182 views

Does the cell internal temperature changes in response to a change in external temperature?

Background Some species are homeotherm (internal temperature is not affected by a change in external temperature) and some are poikilotherm (internal temperature changes in response to external ...
10
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1answer
710 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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2answers
920 views

What are the differences between cancer and tumour?

What are the differences between cancer and tumour? I mean is it in the DNA or shape or something else... And how can a benign tumour turn into a malignant tumour? The body has a lot of tumours all ...
9
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2answers
4k 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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2answers
104 views

Are mitochondria transferable between cell types, individuals and species?

I'm curious about what happens when you insert organelles from a cell into another. In particular, mitochondria. Take two cells from your own body. Somehow extract a mitochondria from one cell and ...
9
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1answer
750 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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3answers
826 views

Methods of nuclear transfection - nuclear transport

I am reading through the ENCODE papers, which is taking me well out of my comfort zone in terms of modern laboratory techniques. At the risk of asking a question which may well be thoroughly answered ...
9
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1answer
872 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
153 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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2answers
184 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 ...
9
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1answer
988 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 ...
9
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1answer
405 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
126 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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0answers
64 views

How is centriole number maintained during meiosis?

I've found a website (Pearson's BioCoach) that claims centrioles duplicate in Prophase II. Is this accurate? Does it depend on the species in question? Looking at three textbook illustrations of ...
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
621 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
2k 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
378 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
245 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
370 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
137 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
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1answer
138 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
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1answer
223 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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3answers
3k views

How fast do cancer cells divide, compared to normal cells?

This question suggests that we have, on average, 50-70 billion cell divisions per day. I just read that cancer cells divide more often and are therefore more prone to radiation. I am wondering, for ...