14
votes
2answers
355 views

Why was it so hard to decode the corn genome?

My teachers growing up told me it was impossible to decode the maize genome. But yet its been done. Why was decoding the genome so significant, and what made it so difficult?
14
votes
6answers
1k 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
votes
4answers
3k views

Why do parasites sometimes kill their hosts?

It's bothered me for a while now. I understand why a parasitoid would do this, as it only temporarily requires the host, and that not all parasites kill their hosts. There seems to be no evolutionary ...
14
votes
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
votes
2answers
1k views

Why do we like salt?

A few friends of mine told me that salt provides zero nutritional value to us, and in fact can harm our bodies. Now, these guys are medical students, and being an engineering student myself, I decided ...
14
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
834 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?
14
votes
3answers
2k views

What implications has the missing 2'-OH on the capability of DNA to form 3D structures?

The chemical difference between RNA and DNA is the missing 2'-hydroxyl group in the nucleotides that build DNA. The major effect of that change that I know of is the higher stability of DNA compared ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

Could we transmit smells electronically?

We can encode sound and images in radio waves and send them, but presumably there's some physiological reason that we can't easily make a picture or video of a smell. Could we realistically break ...
14
votes
1answer
987 views

What is the most condensed form of (stored) energy used in biology?

When considering how organisms store energy for later use, I was wondering what substance known in Biology is best for compacting the most energy in the smallest space(volume-wise). With my (limited) ...
14
votes
2answers
8k views

Why do people have antibodies against other blood types?

The ABO blood type divides each blood type according to whether they have the "A" and "B" antigen(s) (AB has both, O has none). People also have antibodies against the antigens they don't have (AB has ...
14
votes
1answer
3k views

What do you see when your eyes are closed?

If you are in pitch black and you close your eyes, you sometimes can see strange shapes of various colors. A lot of the time these shapes and colors change as you observe them. This phenomenon still ...
14
votes
1answer
3k 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
2answers
3k 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
1k 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?
14
votes
2answers
1k views

How do birds deal with their eyes drying out at high speeds?

My eyes tear up when cycling at 15 mph, which is nothing compared to bird airspeeds. Do birds continuously produce lots of tears and blink a lot, or do the eyes self-moisturize from the inside ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

Why does looking at bright light trigger sneezing in some people?

Why does looking at bright light trigger sneezing in some people? Are there any recent studies that have found a cause for this Photic sneeze reflex? The Wikipedia article only references studies ...
14
votes
2answers
167 views

Relationship between our microbiome and personalized nutrition

Recently, it has been asked whether there are 'metabolic types' between humans that can benefit from a sort of personalized nutrition. One answer suggested that one discerning factor could be the ...
14
votes
1answer
850 views

How Do White Blood Cells Learn? Or Do They?

So I get the concept that a vaccine is a weakened form of a virus so that the body can "learn" to fight it and make a person immune to that disease, but how exactly does this learning take place? What ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

What do viruses do during incubation period?

For example, there is an incubation period of around 1 to 3 days for common cold, and that of AIDS can range over to decades. What do viruses do actually do during the incubation period? What ...
14
votes
2answers
14k views

Possible? When a pregnant woman suffers an organ damage, fetus would send stem cells to the damage organ to help repair it?

I am quite sure that there is this blood-placental barrier between the mother and the baby so that nothing (except a type of antibody) can pass through it. But I remember reading somewhere that when ...
14
votes
2answers
4k 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. ...
14
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
106 views

What are the main mechanisms of interaction between the nervous and immune systems?

We know from pop science that our psychological states have an effect on our immune systems ("worrying ourselves sick", etc.), but what are the actual mechanisms through which our nervous systems pass ...
14
votes
3answers
192 views

Why reference genome is a reference?

I have heard that a reference genome such as humans is generated by randomly choosing samples from a group of donors. But why do we call the DNA sequence generated as a reference? Why should we ...
14
votes
2answers
344 views

When does BLAST fail to align 2 DNA sequences?

This is an assignment that had confused me for a long time. So I think you guys who study computational biology might be interested. The original question is: Find the two most similar DNA ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the smallest number of amino acids required for life?

Is there any hypothesis on the minimum number of amino acids required for life?
14
votes
1answer
707 views

How many people's DNA were involved in the compilation of the reference human genome?

I know that the reference human genome is complied from DNA portions from different people, most of whom were European. Do you know how many of them were involved? Do you know which ones were ...
14
votes
4answers
338 views

Machine learning for light microscopy — problems to solve?

I would like solve some biological problems that would improve the state-of-the-art of biology or bioinformatics. In particular, I want to apply machine learning on light microscopic images. The ...
14
votes
1answer
611 views

Why is yawning contagious?

Why does yawning seems to be contagious? Is this similar to laughter being contagious or does it has a different reason?
14
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

What causes REM atonia to be lost in sleepwalking?

I understand that in normal REM sleep the voluntary muscles are in effect paralysed in order to prevent an individual acting out their dreams. This paper indicates that there are likley to be ...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

Given ATP synthase's structure, how can 3.33 protons ultimately synthesize one and only one ATP?

I am familiar with the structure and function of ATP synthase, but one small detail doesn't seem to make sense. It also happens to be a detail that seems very hard to express. Depending on the ...
14
votes
1answer
591 views

How fast will cells lyse under hypotonic conditions?

Routinely, lysis of cells with hypotonic solutions is carried out along with some physical (douncing) or enzymatic (lysozyme) method to break open the cells. If one were not to do any of these and ...
14
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
151 views

Are there animal models for Clostridium difficile that better replicate human infection than hamsters?

So I'm looking for some information on the infectious dose necessary to colonize a human with Clostridium difficile. There's no human challenge studies, and since it's not a foodborne pathogen, little ...
14
votes
1answer
206 views

Has the human 7-day week had any impact on the evolution of species?

Most (if not all) industrialized countries follow a 7-day work week now, such that we are bound to follow a certain weekly trend in matters such as pollution generation, where to go (e.g. stay in town ...
14
votes
1answer
200 views

Effect of pupil responses on the electroretinogram

The electroretinogram (ERG) is generally considered to reflect the retinal processing of a light stimulus, typically a photoreceptor response followed by secondary neuronal activity. I am wondering ...
14
votes
2answers
5k views

Can one die from pain?

Is it possible that a human or any other creature can die from pain? I googled and found different answers. Some articles say Yes while others say No.
14
votes
1answer
413 views

Fibonacci sequence in nature, truth or just wishful thinking?

I'm reading a bit on the Fibonacci sequence in nature, be it the golden ratio or the golden spiral forming over and over again in biological structures, and then I came across this online article by ...
14
votes
1answer
204 views

Paralogous genes in genome-wide association studies?

Has anybody tested if paralogous genes are over-represented among the genes identified by genome-wide association studies (GWAS)? For example, if a GWAS study finds 200 genes associated to the ...
13
votes
4answers
69k views

Why is DNA replication performed in the 5' to 3' direction?

DNA replication goes in the 5' to 3' direction because DNA polymerase acts on the 3'-OH of the existing strand for adding free nucleotides. Is there any biochemical reason why all organisms evolved to ...
13
votes
5answers
356 views

Can species back-evolve?

One of the tenets of Darwin's theory is the survival of the fittest, ie adaptation of features that allow a species to adapt better to its surrounding environment. I am wondering that given the right ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

Superhuman eyesight

My ten year old son was reading car number plates that were too fast, too far away and at the wrong angle for any of us to read or even believe that it was possible for him to read. We thought he was ...
13
votes
5answers
4k views

Can any protein be phosphorylated?

I am working with an Arabidopsis mutant with an F-box protein knocked out. It has been shown that F-box proteins targets must first be phosphorylated (Skowrya et al., 1997). I have heard of ...
13
votes
4answers
35k views

What is the armpit hair for?

Modern human beings, especially women, cut their armpit hair. It seems to me the armpit hair is trivial/useless. Shortly speaking, what is the armpit hair for?
13
votes
3answers
4k views

How does the human body metabolize gasoline?

A Chinese man has been drinking gasoline to relieve his pain for 25 years. How does the human body metabolize gasoline? Also, what are the side-affects to gasoline?
13
votes
3answers
742 views

Is the appendix a vestigial structure in all vertebrates?

In humans the Appendix is a vestigial organ. Does it serve no apparent purpose in all the vertebrates that have one?
13
votes
3answers
4k views

Supercomputer Vs Human Brain

With supercomputers doing calculation in petaflops ($10^{15}$ Calculations per Second), have we crossed the speed of Human Brain?
13
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...

15 30 50 per page