The principles, conventions, and terms used to systematically classify biological information, entities, processes, but also subfields of biology.

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30
votes
6answers
4k views

Why isn't a virus “alive”?

The recent news about a new supermassive virus being discovered got me thinking about how we define viruses as non-living organisms whilst they are bigger than bacteria, and much more complex than we ...
24
votes
3answers
66k views

What is the difference between orthologs, paralogs and homologs?

These three terms are often misused in the literature. Many researchers seem to treat them as synonyms. So, what is the definition of each of these terms and how do they differ from one another?
5
votes
1answer
218 views

What is a subspecies?

Within a species there may be subspecies that are named using trinomial nomenclautre. For example the Grizzly Bear, Ursus arctos horribilis is a subspecies of the Brown Bear Ursus arctos. The ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Polymorphism in cnidarians?

To me, the phenomenon of polymorphism in cnidarians is particularly troubling. I gather that it essentially refers to existence of various different forms or kinds of individuals, i.e. zooids and ...
-1
votes
1answer
126 views

What do the names of Immunoglobulin subtypes mean? [closed]

What is the exact meaning and full form of IgM IgG IgA etc? What is the rationale behind the names of the isotypes, if there is one? For example, what does "M" mean in IgM?
8
votes
1answer
87 views

Cockroach-like insect identification

I just saw an insect in my room, and I have never seen anything like it ever before. I captured a photo, please see if you can identify it. It has got quite unique colours on its exodermis and it has ...
1
vote
0answers
268 views

On the definition of gDCW (gram dry cell weight)

I need some clarification on the concept of gram dry cell weight. The unit acronym gDCW stands for gram dry cell weight. My interpretation is that 1 gDCW is equivalent to 1 gram of dry cells, but I ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the difference between male and female?

As long as we only look at humans the differences are clear: males have chromosomes XY, produce sperm and don't get pregnant. Females have chromosomes XX, produce egg cells and bear babies. But when ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the definition of “dry weight” and “dry cell weight”?

As I understand it, the dry weight of something is its weight minus the weight of its water content. Is this the definition? What about dry cell weight?
2
votes
4answers
185 views

Are there more descriptive ways of naming genes and gene interactions?

I couldn't help but notice just how non-descriptive the gene names that modern genetics is using. Currently I'm reading "The new science of Evo Devo" by Sean B. Carroll and here are some examples of ...