17
votes
2answers
12k views

How many people are required to maintain genetic diversity?

Imagine humans were to colonize a distant planet and it was a single one-way trip. How many people would they need to bring? Obviously 2 is the minimum, but that would result in a lot of inbreeding. ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is 'Grudger' an evolutionary stable strategy?

I am currently reading 'The Selfish Gene' by Richard Dawkins, which I am sure many here have read. The topic are evolutionary stable strategies (ESS) regarding cooperation. I apologise for the long ...
16
votes
2answers
7k views

Why is glucose our primary source of energy?

Is there any evolutionary reason for glucose being the "main" molecule used as a source of energy, beginning with glycolysis and subsequently cellular respiration (after being converted to two ...
14
votes
3answers
6k views

When has an organism evolved enough to be called a new species?

Imagine that we take a population of horses, split them in half and place them in completely different environments. The two species will evolve separate from each other and because the environment is ...
13
votes
2answers
700 views

Which is more important for protein expression mRNA structure or codon optimization?

The field seems extremely divided on the debate. On one hand, artificial experiments have suggested that synonymous mutations don't correlate with gene expression but rather, the mRNA 5' structure is ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

How does a brain distinguish stimuli?

If all the brain ever "sees" is action potentials, how do we know that one set of action potentials denotes a flash of light, another one signifies a loud sound, etc ?
12
votes
3answers
272 views

How are long time periods measured in biological systems?

Biological systems are pretty good at measuring fairly long times, for example, menstrual cycles (month), or puberty (years). Counting days or years seems to be implausible, and chemical concentration ...
11
votes
1answer
318 views

Beginning of the urogenital system

Are any invertebrate nephridia (proto/meta) homologous with vertebrate kidneys in the sense that embryologically they also begin together with the genital system? When did the embryologic association ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

Why did humans become bipedal?

Somewhere in evolutionary history homo started walking upright and became bipedal. You hear these hypotheses that, by walking upright, they could see better across the grassy savannas to escape ...
10
votes
1answer
266 views

What are the functions of magnetic bacteria?

I'm trying to understand why are bacteria "equipped" with magnetosomes and why/what for do they need such organelles.
9
votes
1answer
4k views

Effects of Polyphasic vs Monophasic sleep in humans

Why do humans practice monophasic sleep cycles? When altering one's circadian rhythm to a Polyphasic sleep schedule, how much would that affect development? Is Monophasic sleep (once per day) ...
9
votes
3answers
616 views

Are the number of base pairs in a given chromosome same between different individuals?

This is a basic question but I couldn't find an answer through a web search; hopefully this is the right place to ask. Is the number of base pairs in a particular chromosome the same in all ...
8
votes
3answers
898 views

Where does extra blood come from to fill your muscles during exercise?

Let's say I go to the gym and lift some weights an hour. During this time my arms will grow due to the "pump" -- the extra blood rushing in to feed the muscles. For example, I've measured about 2-3 ...
8
votes
2answers
504 views

Why sleep? No, actually, why wake?

I was just reading the sleep threads, and I wondered, why is the body so constructed so that sleep is necessary? (Is it just a design error?) But then, how do things come to be awake at all? How did ...
8
votes
1answer
802 views

In humans what is the last metabolic process to cease after death?

After death which of our body's metabolic processes will continue functioning for the longest?
8
votes
1answer
7k views

Difference between strand-specific and not strand-specific RNA-seq data

I would like to ask the difference between strand-specific and not strand-specific dataset. As far as I know, strand-specific data means that we know which strand the transcript is from. I do not ...
7
votes
1answer
172 views

Do adjacent axons in a nerve influence each other?

Suppose I have a nerve fiber consisting of several axons all running in parallel to each other. When an action potential is generated in a certain axon, this will alter the concentration of sodium ...
7
votes
2answers
440 views

Why do carnivores evolve?

If humans can live without consuming other animals, then why we do it; from a biological point of view, why do we eat meat? I would also extend the question to another animals, because many animals ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

How do neurons form new connections in brain plasticity?

I've been reading about brain plasticity and how the brain can "rewire" itself. One of the things that is not clear to me - how neurons can establish new connections. Does this rewiring mean that ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Why do human eyes glow red on a photo and dog's eyes green?

Previous Research I know that cameras sometimes come with an anti "red eye" functionality that involves two flashes, presumably the second flash coincides with the shutter opening. Question Why do ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Is Mutation Theory still “valid” for complex organisms?

I'm afraid like most people I suffer from having learned "A History of Evolution" in school, rather than cutting to the chase and learning the actual "up to date" version of the subject. (Imagine if ...
6
votes
1answer
185 views

Are low-intensity radio-waves carcinogenic?

A recent review article, Oxidative mechanisms of biological activity of low-intensity radiofrequency radiation reached a surprising conclusion our analysis demonstrates that low-intensity RFR [...
6
votes
1answer
528 views

Relationship between nerves and axons

I just wanted to get a realistic viewpoint of our nervous system. I understand arteries and veins, but I wanted to know how similar our nervous system is to that? I understand we have neurons (...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Books for beginners [closed]

I want to study biology. I have zero previous knowledge of biology but I know Physics, Chemistry and Maths. From which book should I start? I have heard about Campbell Biology, but it is very costly ...
6
votes
1answer
159 views

Hill-Roberston effects and effective population size

From this article, first page, middle of the second column: Even if harmful alleles do not become fixed, they can still reduce the efficacy of selection on neighbouring loci through a process ...
5
votes
2answers
4k views

Are brain cells replaced over time?

You know how your cells die all the time and new ones are made to replace them, so you practically have a new body every maybe 5 years? Many people say you become a completely different person every ...
5
votes
2answers
353 views

Why do small organisms make faster movements than big organisms?

I hesitated to ask this question because it seems so obvious and intuitive. However, I am not able to explain this tendency. Background It seems to me that small organisms make faster movements than ...
4
votes
1answer
169 views

How does “inheritance of methylation” of DNA and/or histones work?

What are the current models/ideas describing the mechanisms explaining inheritance of methylation on DNA resp. histone level? Is there evidance of this "setup" information being really duplicated/...
4
votes
1answer
131 views

Can defibrillation be done with a car battery?

Can successful defibrillation be done with a car battery? Is it POSSIBLE for this to work? Let's say you are stuck on a very remote place and something happens to someone... Moreover, can you jump ...
4
votes
2answers
121 views

Short, concise, practical manual for doing experimental biology

I am am physical scientist working in biology, and have recently started doing experiments. I would like a manual akin to "Numerical Recipes", but for the lab: straight forward, easy instructions on ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

What are gram negative and positive bacteria?

I've just finished a course of double antibiotics for Helicobacter pylori in my stomach. I looked up H. pylori and found that it was a gram-negative bacterium. I looked up gram-negative and didn't ...
3
votes
1answer
163 views

What in neurons and their connections changes during the process of learning?

I'm not sure if this question belongs more in physics or biology (or maybe even computer science)... but biology seemed to fit more. What changes in the state of our brains when we learn things? ...
3
votes
2answers
216 views

What are the physiological roles of Hydrogen sulfide?

I am thinking why hydrogen sulfide has its effects in the body. For instance, it is one Salmonella's virulence factor. I am not sure if such a balance equations holds H2O + H2S ←→ ... Actually, I ...
2
votes
2answers
202 views

Coalescence time: Is it different for haploids and diploids in population genetics?

I'm trying to model Cyanobacteria cells divergence in 2 populations with mutation rate $-\mu$ and I need to verify my model with a valid theory. I don't have much biology background and all the ...
33
votes
3answers
26k views

Why do eukaryotic organisms have introns in their DNA?

We touched on introns and exons in my bio class, but unfortunately we didn't really talk about why Eukaryotes have introns. It would seem they would have to have some purpose since prokaryotes do not ...
29
votes
8answers
545 views

Has there been any observation of species adapting the evolution process?

I am very interested in the evolution of the evolution process itself. There are of course a lot of things that influence how evolution will work, but for this question, I am interested in things that ...
21
votes
1answer
578 views

Why are many fruits sour?

Many fruits (like apples, berries, citrus fruits etc.) contain high levels of organic acids, especially malic acid and citric acid. Are there any evolutionary functions of those acids in ripe fruits? ...
19
votes
1answer
261 views

Are there dextral/sinistral higher animals?

For example, almost every dog I've met in my life (more than 20 subjects) uses their right paw touching one while asking for attention. Can it be used as a criterion for calling them dextral? If not, ...
18
votes
2answers
7k views

How and why did mammals go back to the oceans?

If I understand evolutionary biology correctly, mammals first evolved on land as small, rodent-like creatures, in a time when reptiles were dominant on land. Eventually, they diversified into the ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

Do animals exist with an uneven total number of digits?

I recently finished reading Contact by Carl Sagan. In the book they talk about a pattern in the transcendental number like pi or e, and comment that it is found in base 10 or however many fingers the ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

How does evolution produce complex organs

I've been wondering lately how evolution manages to produce complex organs. It is pretty obvious to me how evolution would select some minor traits like size, resistnce to illness or climate. There is ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

Why do some trees have a life span, while some don't?

I have heard that there is no limit on the growth of trees, but then why do some trees, such as boxelders and poplars, tend to live shorter than redwoods, for example? Some advertisements for improved ...
15
votes
1answer
3k views

Why do some mammals not have testes in a scrotum?

Coming from an evolutionary approach, Is the only purpose of a scrotum to regulate the temperature of the testes? Knowing all mammals are warm blooded, shouldn't all mammals have testes in a scrotum?...
15
votes
2answers
6k views

How does a plant grow before photosynthesis is possible?

During photosynthesis, a plant translates CO2, water and light into O2. I assume the carbon C is further used for the growing process. I wonder how the plant grows before the time where photosynthesis ...
14
votes
1answer
874 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

How many human proteins have a solved 3D structure?

I was wondering how many human proteins have a solved 3D structure. Is there a database with only human proteins? I looked at pdb but couldn't find a filter.
14
votes
4answers
11k views

Why we have no enzyme to digest cellulose?

As we know, cellulose is the most abundant polysaccharide in nature. Why don't we have any enzyme to digest cellulose?
13
votes
1answer
274 views

What is the percentage of people living in England in 1500 AD whose lineage is still alive?

This sounds a bit random, but it stems from a lecture in statistical genetics which I attended a while ago. We were shown a population lineage graph from which it was clear that most lineages ...
13
votes
2answers
803 views

Human disease and associated phenotype database?

Does anyone know of any good databases that contain symptoms for diseases and other ailments in humans? I've tried working with UMLS, but thats been impossible to work with. I've also tried working ...
13
votes
1answer
366 views

How does herpes (HSV) infection suppress HIV?

HIV compromises the human body to defend against infection. Yet people who are infected with herpes are at less risk of developing AIDS. How does this work?

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