17
votes
2answers
1k views

Which organism has the smallest genome length?

Which animal/plant/anything has smallest length genome?
15
votes
3answers
28k 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?
22
votes
4answers
8k views

Is there any advantage to one blood type over another?

All humans can be grouped into ABO and Rh+/- blood groups (at a minimum). Is there any advantage at all to one group or the other? This article hints that there are some pathogens that display a ...
15
votes
3answers
751 views

Are single-celled organisms capable of learning?

I've read that the amoeba is capable of learning. Since these protists have no nervous system, it's safe to assume that even highly simplified learning mechanisms of the Aplysia are miles off in the ...
10
votes
5answers
3k views

How did the first self replicating organism come into existence?

When people try to explain evolution, they tell me that evolution is a cumulative result of mutations & natural section of the more superior individuals of a particular species. I think I'm fairly ...
21
votes
4answers
565 views

How many times did endosymbiosis occur?

According to the endosymbiont theory, mitochondria and chloroplasts originated as bacteria which were engulfed by larger cells. How many times is it estimated that this occurred in the past? Are there ...
13
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

Do humans have enough biological differences to be grouped into races or subspecies?

After my online research on the subject, I learnt that, biologically speaking, many scientists believe that there is no such thing as a race, because Homo sapiens species is only 200,000 years old, ...
5
votes
1answer
434 views

If fever is a natural immune defense, why do people take drugs to lower it?

If fever is a natural defense against pathogens, why do sick people take NSAIDs to reduce the fever?
13
votes
1answer
2k views

Why do we grow so much hair on our heads compared to our bodies?

I've been wondering about head hair, facial hair in particular. Human males can grow very extensive beards should they choose to not shave - however you do not really see this in our chimpanzee ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

What makes a gene dominant or recessive

We all carry two copies of each gene (outside of male sex chromosomes). If the two differ from each other often one is dominant and one recessive. How does this mechanism work on a molecular level? ...
6
votes
1answer
607 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
161 views

Ventral stream pathway and architecture proposed by Poggio's group

Please can you give me a very brief explanation about all functions in the ventral stream architecture summarized in this figure: This figure is from Serre et al.'s A quantitative theory of ...
3
votes
2answers
365 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

What if rB=C in hamilton's rule?

Hamilton's rule states that if rB>C then a gene giving altruistic behaviour will increase in frequency in the population. What would happen if rB=C? Will an individual perform the altruistic act?
23
votes
4answers
990 views

Why do men have nipples?

I'd be tempted to call nipples in men vestigial, but that suggests they have no modern function. They do have a function, of course, but only in women. So why do men (and all male mammals) have them? ...
17
votes
1answer
178 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, ...
16
votes
1answer
444 views

How did viruses come to be?

My question is out of curiosity and got me thinking. How did viruses with the head, tail and tail fibres actually evolve? These viruses look more like machines than biological entities. Are there any ...
16
votes
2answers
336 views

Why would diffusion be faster across a non-specialised tissue?

The standard protocol for a person experiencing chest pains is to chew a 300mg aspirin tablet, the argument being that chewing rather than swallowing the tablet results in the aspirin entering the ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

Can two humans with 44 chromosomes produce viable offspring?

It is known that there are very few individuals having 44 chromosomes, not the usual 46 chromosomes. One example is a male in China: the first article, the second article. The other is a female in ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

How many organisms have ever lived on Earth?

I've looked for some information on this, but couldn't find anything useful. Has there been any noteworthy attempt to estimate the sum amount of individuals of all species that have ever lived on ...
13
votes
2answers
607 views

How Do Galls Form?

I am curious how Gall Wasps, bacteria and other organisms induce galls to form. Specifically, what chemicals induce gall formation?
11
votes
1answer
842 views

Why does hair turn grey or white, and why does it happen later for some?

The question is pretty simple: what is happening molecularly when hair turns grey or white? I would imagine that it is due to the lack of a particular compound. I'm also interested in why some ...
11
votes
4answers
222 views

What was the reason for some plant and animals to become giant in course of evolution?

The dinosaurs, mammoths, giant plants etc are known to be bigger than modern animals. I wonder why they had been lived and why they are not living now? I really don't know much but is it something ...
11
votes
2answers
471 views

Are there neurons that can sense light shining in your ears?

I know someone who bought earphones that shine light in you ears. According to what he was told, there are neurons that sense light and then make you feel wide awake when activated, which seemed like ...
11
votes
2answers
197 views

Under what conditions do dendritic spines form?

I'm looking for resources or any information about the formation of dendritic spines and synaptogenesis, especially in relation to how new connections are formed on a daily basis. Does the ...
9
votes
2answers
521 views

Do insects with compound eyes have depth perception?

Do insects with compound eyes have depth perception? They fly as if they do, but their eyes are so close together it seems like the image would be 2 dimensional.
9
votes
5answers
491 views

What is meant in biology by the term “evolved”?

A student asked me this the other day and I thought that I would ask it again here. If one organism is said to be "more evolved" than another, what exactly does this mean?
8
votes
3answers
301 views

Long-term-potentiation and memory. Where do we stand?

I was reading the answers to the question: How and where, in the human brain, are memories stored? and, as expected, LTP and LTD came out. Every time I read about LTP/LTD there is always something ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Are there any motile plants?

There are numerous examples of sessile animals (sponges, barnacles etc.) but are there any examples of motile plants? If not, why not? Surely mobility would have conferred an evolutionary advantage to ...
7
votes
1answer
796 views

Does extracted DNA degrade after a certain time period?

For direct use as template in PCR runs. Chelex 100 5-10% w/v extraction. Without listing the whole protocol, in the end the supernate is decanted off and then stored at 4°C. I was under the impression ...
6
votes
1answer
140 views

What exactly makes bananas go brown?

I know that often oxidation processes are mentioned when referring to the color change from yellow to brown in bananas (specifically: those that you get everywhere in supermarkets, with no seeds). ...
6
votes
3answers
230 views

Are there genes in humans from the common ancestor of all organisms?

How long ago can human genes be traced? Are there any genes that go back unchanged to the beginning of life on Earth? And if so, how many?
6
votes
1answer
113 views

Macromolecule levels in daughter cells after fission

When a prokaryote undergoes binary fission, how are the non-DNA macromolecules distributed between the two daughter cells? This is motivated by comments on a previous question and a G+ discussion. I ...
5
votes
2answers
125 views

Book recommendation on population/evolutionary genetics?

I have recently been involved in collaborations that require me to model the population genetics of eukaryotic populations. I fear I may either be "re-inventing the wheel" or making conceptual ...
4
votes
1answer
214 views

What is the molecular basis of hangovers?

Well, most of us have experienced the wonderful feeling of the dreaded hangover. How does it work exactly? I imagine it has something to do with dehydration but what are the underlying mechanisms? ...
3
votes
4answers
103 views

Bad Eyesight and Evolution

Why do many humans have bad eyesight, such as near-sightedness, which hampers performance in a wide variety of tasks? Shouldn't there be evolutionary pressure towards better eyesight?
3
votes
2answers
170 views

How does the brain know where a signal came from? What is the addressing system

I am an electronic engineer so I am thinking about this from an electronics outlook. How does the addressing system work, As I see it, the nervous system is small parallel branches attached to larger ...
1
vote
3answers
190 views

Has medical progress stopped human evolution?

We can cure many diseases nowadays, and thus the natural selection is very limited. Plus, mankind spent the whole beginning of its existence in almost the same hostile environment, and that's where he ...
0
votes
2answers
540 views

Why have humans evolved conciousness?

Why did humans/animals evolve to become self-aware of their own thoughts. That is, why don't humans act and compute like a machine, or walking zombie. In my mind, such creatures would still be as ...
17
votes
2answers
316 views

Can an adult without genetic lactase persistence still develop a tolerance for dairy foods?

While investigating the rise of adult lactose tolerance, I came across the news that China has been encouraging its citizens to drink more milk, even though most of the Asian population lacks the SNP ...
14
votes
1answer
866 views

Why do we get runny noses in the cold?

The most annoying thing for me about being cold is a runny nose. Is there an advantage to having a runny nose when cold? What does having a runny nose achieve?
10
votes
2answers
241 views

Have we ever observed two drosophila lineages that evolved reproductive isolation in labs?

Background The standard definition of species refers to the concept of reproductive isolation. If two lineages are found to be reproductively isolated, then we consider these two lineages to belong ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

How to DIY preserve pet DNA today so that it can be used in 20 years

I know that there are companies that offer a kit+storage of your pet DNA for around $2k. My question is if there is any other option for doing this yourself with a thought in mind that in 20+ years ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Will humans and animals be harmed by frequencies outside their hearing range?

The human ear (for example) is sensitive to frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz. Any sound beyond that limit would not be heard by us naturally. Will it harm us (effect our ability to hear) when we hear ...
9
votes
1answer
262 views

Does DNA react in all of the ways most other acids do?

As I understand it from my basic chemistry, there are some fundamental reactions that exist between any acid and other substances for example acid-base reactions that form a salt, and the existence of ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

How is eye color in humans inherited?

In high school we studied the inheritance of eye color, as it was explained to us in the most simple way: blue eye color is a recessive, monogenic, autosomal trait. Now I know that it is a bit more ...
9
votes
1answer
89 views

Which patterns do I have to avoid when modifying the 3'-UTR?

I want to change a pre-miRNA sequence (in my case the pre-miRNA is encoding in a 3'UTR of a gene) and then put it in a lentivirus to see if it is still processed. After modification (permutation of ...
9
votes
1answer
499 views

How does laser surgery correct accommodation problems?

When someone undergoes laser surgery to improve eyesight, how does it correct accommodation problems? Why does it not help presbyopia?
8
votes
1answer
130 views

Seeing strange things in light

I have noticed that if you look directly at tubelight (I have only white ones in my home) and close your eyes little, you see little random shaped colourless things sometimes with slow speed and ...

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