How terms are used or the meaning of words as used in scientific literature. Questions should ideally include a link or quote as context for where the term was encountered.

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23
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3answers
4k views

Is “computational biology” different from “bioinformatics”?

Are "computational biology" and "bioinformatics" simply different terms for the same thing or is there a real difference?
17
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2answers
745 views

Why should a tumor look like a crab?

Origin of the word "cancer" The disease was first called cancer by Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC). He is considered the “Father of Medicine”. Hippocrates used the terms carcinos and ...
9
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5answers
5k views

Difference between genetic engineering and synthetic biology

I've recently seen the term synthetic biology being used to describe research involving genetic modification of organisms. What is the difference between synthetic biology and genetic engineering? Is ...
9
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3answers
9k views

What is the distinction between chemokines, cytokines, interferons and interleukins?

They all seem to describe molecules of similar function and many people seem to use them interchangeably. Also please include any other similar molecules if I've forgotten any in the list above.
8
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2answers
3k views

Are blood vessels organs?

Are blood vessels classified as organs? Organs compose of 2 or more tissues and perform a certain function. Blood vessels have 3 different tissues and perform a function (transport blood), yet I do ...
7
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2answers
85 views

Is there a name for the evolutionary loss of vestigial structures?

Consider a biological structure which no longer benefits an organism, such as the eyes of an organism whose population now lives in total darkness. I can think of three reasons why such a structure ...
7
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1answer
66 views

What does the term “relay competent” mean?

I was reading the article of Dallon & Othmer (2010) which deals with cell aggregation in Dictyostelium discoideum. In the introduction of the paper it is said that cells becomes "relay competent". ...
5
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1answer
207 views

Was Darwin aware of the difficulties behind the concept of species?

Introduction The concept of species is a very old concept that suffers from not being a natural category. There exists no single definition that would categorize living beings into groups and that ...
5
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2answers
6k views

What does confluency mean?

Since as long as I have been doing cell culture, the word confluency is used to describe the % growth of cells or area covered by them. However, no dictionary that I have found uses this word. I was ...
5
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1answer
77 views

What does the 'V' stand for in ECG electrode names?

In electrocardiography, electrodes have the typical names of: RA (Right Arm) LA (Left Arm) RL (Right Leg) LL (Left Leg) V1, V2, V3, V4, V5 and V6 What does the V stand for? Is it perhaps from ...
5
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1answer
3k views

What is a focal copy number variation?

Often, genetics studies, especially genome wide ones, talk about "focal copy number variations" in genes or regions of the chromosome. I know what a copy number variation is. What does "focal" mean, ...
5
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2answers
52 views

Is there a name for this phenomenon described in “Phylogenies and the Comparative Method”?

The figures below are from Felsenstein's paper "Phylogenies and the Comparative Method". I was wondering if there was a specific name for this effect where there is an apparant correlation that is ...
5
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1answer
39 views

Is “aggregate percentage” still a valid term in ecology?

Martin et al. 1946 define "aggregate percentage" as a metric that describes the mean percentage contribution of a group to the total mass/abundance of all samples. The metric is useful in datasets ...
5
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1answer
108 views

How are Raunkiær's plant life forms viewed today?

At the beginning of the 20th century, Raunkiær proposed a typology of plant life-forms based on where they bear their buds, roughly as: cryptophytes: belowground hemicryptophytes: at the surface ...
4
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2answers
17k views

Calculating Protein Concentration from Kilo Units (KU)

I am looking to purchase Pyruvate Kinase from the Sigma Website, they state the volume in Kilo Units (KU) i.e. 1, 5 or 25 KU. It also states there are 350-600 units / mg protein. Does this mean one ...
4
votes
2answers
191 views

Do mutant alleles result from mutation of the wild type?

The allele that encodes for the most common form of a phenotype in natural population is called a wild type allele and all the rest of the alleles encoding forms other than the wild type are called ...
4
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1answer
7k views

What does the term 'bioavailability' mean?

From what I've read, Bioavailability is the degree to which food nutrients are available for absorption and utilization in the body. How would you explain this with an example?
4
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2answers
170 views

Are Gram negative bacteria classified as such because of their negative membrane potential?

Does the membrane potential usually quoted for Gram negative bacteria (e.g., E. coli) refer to the potential across both membranes? - If yes, then does the potential fall more over the inner or outer ...
4
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2answers
82 views

Do swarms show intelligence?

Can you think of collective and swarm behaviors as "intelligence"? Would such a concept apply to a) ant colonies and b) fish swarms?
4
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2answers
923 views

Why are the sex chromosomes called X and Y?

Is there a specific reason that the letter Y is used as the symbol for the male chromosome and X is used for the female chromosome?
4
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4answers
172 views

Collective name for the X- and Z-chromosomes

Chromosomes are grouped as sex chromosomes or autosomes, with the X, Y, Z and W all falling in to the former category. The Z and X are present both in the homogametic and heterogametic sexes, and the ...
4
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2answers
20k views

What are the functions and differences between axons and dendrites?

My textbook doesn't do a very good job of pointing out what the differences between the two are. It basically mentions axons only in the same breath as the synapse (that synapses are the endings/tips ...
4
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1answer
3k views

What is immunopanning (vs. immunoprecipitation and FACS)?

I had never heard the term before today. From what I can tell, it's using antibodies to purify a cell population of interest. I would appreciate more details, especially in how it differs from ...
4
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1answer
278 views

Is there an acceptable term for 'male fox' other than 'dog'?

I'm writing a lab on sexual dimorphism in Arctic foxes. As such, I use the words 'dog' and 'vixen' fairly often. In the discussion section, I compare the results from the lab with the results from ...
4
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1answer
160 views

Definition of “structural underdominance”?

In Stathos and Fishman (2014), the authors refer to the concept of structural underdominance. The first time they mention it is in the first paragraph of the second page (left column) and the term is ...
4
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2answers
2k views

Transcript(omics) terminology: cDNAs, ESTs, RNA-seq, etc

I've worked pretty frequently with genome and transcriptome data for several years now, but I'm still not 100% sure I understand the proper usage for certain terminology related to transcripts and ...
4
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1answer
37 views

Terminology regarding cross-immunoreactivity

After reading an article, I saw expressions like "cross-immunoreactivity among epitopes", "cross-immunoreactivity among variants of virus", "immunological reactions among pairs of peptides" and so on. ...
4
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1answer
3k views

What is a “mechanistic study”?

I believe a "mechanistic study" means a study where a medicinal product is being used but the purpose of the study is to investigate the patient or disease, not the medicinal product. How does this ...
4
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1answer
117 views

Terminology question: the scope of an allele in an organism

Let us consider a gene FOO with novel type foo. If I were discussing an organism that has inherited foo in every cell during classical zygote formation, then I would ordinarily just say that the ...
3
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5answers
6k views

Can the third sex be categorized as Male or Female?

Hijra are people who have a penis (not sure if sexually active) but look much like a female (perhaps for some feminine biological property). Wikipedia says they are "physiological males who have ...
3
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2answers
194 views

What is a bacterial biofilm?

Bacteria produce something called a biofilm. I have found a few definitions; some say it is a complex of live and dead bacteria and others say it is a layer on cell wall. What is it made of? What ...
3
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1answer
391 views

What is the distinction between the terms detrivores, decomposers, saprotrophs and saprozoic organisms?

All of them feed on dead and decaying matter (detritus). Detrivores and decomposers are distinct, as it says on Wikipedia, in the fact detrivores consume macroscopic clumps of detritus while ...
3
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3answers
127 views

Abbreviations for molecules: What are CheW, CheA, CheY?

I've encountered the abbreviations such as "CheW" and "CheA" for certain organic molecules. For example: Proteins associating with the Tar complex include the autophosphorylating protein kinase ...
3
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2answers
331 views

How does ecology differ from biology?

What precisely is ecology? How does it differ from biology? Because I never studied biology after high school, please explain as if I were 10 years old. I only know that ecology is a subset of biology ...
3
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2answers
728 views

What is the difference between clinical and non-clinical depression, and is there a term for different severity of the bipolar disorder?

I was looking for a term which describes a bipolar disorder of lesser severity. I know from experience from someone I know well, what a very severe case of the bipolar disorder looks like, when an ...
3
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2answers
5k views

Is episome a plasmid or a virus?

A plasmid is a small DNA molecule that is physically separate from, and can replicate independently of, chromosomal DNA within a cell. In general, in eukaryotes, episomes are closed circular DNA ...
3
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3answers
2k views

Are there verbs for “undergo mitosis” and “undergo meiosis”?

From my experience on SE sites, I believe this is the right site to ask this question under "terminology". I've been trying to find out whether English has one-word verbs for "undergo mitosis" and ...
3
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2answers
168 views

What does 'direction' mean in the statement “mutations are non-directional”?

I was reading the Mutation theory of De Vries; there I encountered this following statement: Mutations are discontinuous, random & non-directional.This is in contrast to Darwinism where ...
3
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2answers
2k views

What is an 'ex vivo' experiment?

Simple terminology question: Is there a hard boundary between in vitro and ex vivo? Is there a hard boundary between in vivo and ex vivo? Suppose a sensory neuron is electrically recorded in the ...
3
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1answer
27 views

Is curling the fingers considered digit flexion?

Is curling the fingers considered finger flexion and straightening the fingers considered finger extension? I feel like this is correct in everyday language, but I am not sure if it is correct in ...
3
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2answers
127 views

What is correct MVM vs. MMV?

I'm writing up a report and I see conflicts everywhere on the internet. Should it be Murine Minute Virus (MMV) or Minute Virus of Mice (MVM). The followup question is does it really matter.
3
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1answer
3k views

Is the complement system a part of innate or adaptive immunity

I've been reading about the complement system, as part of the human immune system. The complement system is introduced as part of the article on innate immunity on Wikipedia. This classification makes ...
3
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1answer
3k views

Neuromediator, Neuromodulator, Neurotransmitter?

Of these three words, perhaps Neurotransmitter is the most obvious. I took a look at Wikipedia page for Neuromodulation and found that this is pretty similar to Neurotransmitter too. I guess ...
3
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1answer
672 views

What is “bacto” peptone?

Standard recipes for yeast medium often include "bacto-peptone". Is this the same as bacteriological peptone? Is there an authoritative source that spells it out?
3
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1answer
262 views

“selective pressure” or “selection pressure”?

Editing a manuscript of mine, a co-author changes "selection pressure" to "selective pressure". Are those two terms interchangeable? Or are there subtle differences that I'm not aware of? The ...
3
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1answer
477 views

Is a “Fact” any theory for which there is overwhelming evidence in any field other than biology?

Evolution is often described as a fact, and a theory. Evolution is a heavily overloaded term, with one definition being the fact that, "changes in the frequency of alleles in populations of organisms ...
3
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1answer
68 views

Is there a term to quantify how spread a character is on a phylogenetic tree?

Is there a term which can quantify how 'spread out' a particular character is on a tree? I want to distinguish between a character which is only restricted to a particular clade vs. a character that ...
3
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2answers
61 views

Terminology for inefficacy of selection on recessive alleles

I am wondering is there some proper terminology which is used to say that deleterious recessive alleles might be able to hide, reducing the the efficacy of selection, in diploid organisms/chromosomes. ...
3
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1answer
54 views

How much divergence would be needed for classifications as astrobiology?

It is possible that life has invaded mars or the moon by way of probes rovers and other man made tech. How many years or generations of sequential and phenotypical diverge would be necessary to ...
3
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1answer
54 views

Is there a superterm combining “animal line” and “cell line” in disease models?

Biologists researching diseases will frequently use animal models. The way I understand it, there are species of animals, such as "mouse", and lines of mice, such as ...