12
votes
2answers
272 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?
12
votes
3answers
658 views

Why are there no organisms with metal body parts, like weapons, bones, and armour? (Or are there?)

Reading this question, Why are there no wheeled animals?, I wondered why no organisms seem to make use of the tensile and other strengths of metal, as we do in metal tools and constructions. I am ...
12
votes
2answers
353 views

Are there issues with filling PCR tubes to capacity?

I'm planning to scale up a PCR reaction, and I'm wondering if filling the PCR tubes to the maximum volume of 200 ul would be a problem. It would mean a lot less pipetting as I would only need 1/4 of ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there any use of CO2 in human body?

We all know CO2 as a waste product of metabolism . Does CO2 have any helpful role , apart from having a role in pH of blood ?
12
votes
4answers
408 views

Why did high A+T content create problems for the Plasmodium falciparum genome project?

The main paper for the Plasmodium palciparum genome project (Gardner et al., 2002) repeatedly mentioned that the unusually high A+T content (~80%) of the genome caused problems. For example they imply ...
12
votes
4answers
396 views

Questions to ask to a panel of people that will be sequenced

Some genes have been shown to be associated with left-handedness. Working with some clinicians, I've recommend them to ask their patients (whose genome will be sequenced) if they are "right or ...
12
votes
2answers
175 views

Why is the microbial ecosystem of the gut so susceptible to disruption by pathogens?

From all accounts, it seems as if the Escherichia, Enterobacter, etc. that live and thrive in the human gut are pretty well entrenched. I know that these microbial populations are often analyzed as ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

Do men have significant hormonal cycles?

I know there's a similar question here. But that discussion dissolved into lunar cycle and a correlation with it. I want to find more towards the original question of is there a periodic hormone ...
12
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 ...
12
votes
2answers
410 views

Is the 'fluttering feeling' when under stress neurological or physical?

I'm sure that everyone is familiar with the sensation commonly known as "butterflies in the stomach". It is commonly experienced during periods of anxiety or stress (e.g. before high stakes job ...
12
votes
2answers
351 views

Are there any plants that fix their own nitrogen?

I know that most nitrogen is fixed through industrial processes and bacterial symbiotic relationships. However, are there any plants that can fix their own atmospheric nitrogen?
12
votes
1answer
728 views

What did Richard Feynman contribute to molecular biology?

Some time ago, I read James Gleick's "Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman", a wonderful biography of Feynman and, by extension, most of modern physics. In this book, the author mentions ...
12
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does Penicillin only affect bacterial cell walls

I was quite fascinated by the feature Should Science Pull the Trigger on Antiviral Drugs—That Can Blast the Common Cold? in this month's Wired magazine. They explain that Penicillin is effective at ...
12
votes
3answers
681 views

Why do restriction enzymes tend to have an even number of bases in their recognition site?

When reading my textbook I noticed that in all examples but one from eight the recognition site was an even number of bases. I wondered if this was just a co-incidence, so I took the data from this ...
12
votes
2answers
1k 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
1answer
202 views

Abiogenesis: Beyond the research journals as a lead in to discussions on evolution

I just came across this abstract: Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) are responsible for creating the pool of correctly charged aminoacyl-tRNAs that are necessary for the translation of genetic ...
12
votes
2answers
139 views

How to decide which is the correct scientific name for a particular species

To start with, I am not a person having sound knowledge in biology. When I started my search for phyto-chemicals in a particular family in the plant kingdom, I got confused. The scientific papers use ...
12
votes
2answers
452 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
323 views

Why are there N's after Sanger sequencing?

After sending a DNA sample for sequencing, the resulting sequence had N's in the beginning and end of the sequence. I know the N's mean that the computer can't tell what the base pair is, but why is ...
12
votes
1answer
303 views

Quantum mechanics in biology

There is a growing interest in the applications of non-equilibrium quantum dynamics to describe biological processes (I'm not talking here about Penrose's old theories, but new stuff -- quantum ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

How do insects breathe?

Do ants even breathe? If they don't, how do they stay alive? On what resources do they depend upon to stay alive? How are they different form mammals?
12
votes
1answer
4k views

Why does scar tissue change color?

I was wondering why, when you are cold, scar tissue turns bluish or purple while original skin stays the same color. The only thing I can think of, is that maybe scar tissue gets less circulation ...
12
votes
2answers
186 views

Can a color-deficient person be made to visualize the missing colors?

Hope this is within the scope of this site. Color-deficient persons lack the cells in their retina needed for differentiating some (or all) colors. However, the part of the brain that actually ...
12
votes
2answers
394 views

What is the morphological difference between Leydig cell in human and pig?

The pig is only an example, just an animal. Leydig cells have protein inclusions (Reinke crystals) that are mostly made of crystallised lipofuscin. They are secretory inclusions i.e. cells formed in ...
12
votes
3answers
160 views

Why do some fruits have a much wider range of acceptable sizes than others?

Some fruits such as pumpkins can grow to be 100 lbs. Under different conditions, the same variety of pumpkin can produce a 15 lb. fruit. Both plants are healthy, and look the same except for their ...
12
votes
1answer
529 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
899 views

Why do neurons die so quickly (relative to other cells) when deprived of oxygen?

This question could be considered a follow-up question to Why is a lack of oxygen fatal to cells?, although the top answer there does not address why damage starts to pop in. The answer says this: ...
12
votes
3answers
8k views

How many agarose gel bands are typical for circularised DNA

I am aware that circular DNA can be both relaxed and super coiled. However when running an agarose gel of the circular plasmid along with singly digested plasmid with BamHI and HindIII, I see 1 band ...
12
votes
2answers
341 views

Is there any reason for the variation in mitochondrial DNA size?

As my textbook An Introduction to Genetic Analysis points out, yeast mitochondrial DNA has approximately 78 kb of genetic data, while the human mitochondrial DNA contains 17 kb. Is there any evolution ...
12
votes
3answers
302 views

What is Curved DNA?

CbpA is DNA binding protein found in E. coli and binds non-specifically to curved DNA (Cosgriff et al., 2010), when the bacterium is in a static phase of growth. The use of "curved DNA" confuses me. ...
12
votes
2answers
741 views

Impact of Alan Turing's approach to morphogenesis

Shortly before his untimely passing, the computing pioneer Alan Turing published his most cited paper The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis (1952). The central question for Turing was: how does a ...
12
votes
1answer
203 views

Why do people dying of immune deficiency diseases appear sick?

Please forgive the obviously silly appearance of this question, and/or of the tenor which may come across as flippant or dismissive of real world suffering. My intention is none of the above. As a ...
12
votes
1answer
14k views

Are mosquitoes repelled by high frequency sound?

I am totally confused whether ask this question to physics or biology stackexchange. I downloaded a mobile application which claims to repel mosquitoes. This application basically produces sound from ...
12
votes
1answer
6k views

What is the significance and method behind Ramachandran plots?

My PI showed a Ramachandran plot in class today with minimal explanation, but I'm interested in finding out more. I understand that the Ramachandran plot shows the relation between the omega phi and ...
12
votes
1answer
537 views

Sequencing the genomes of polyploid organisms

I've done some transcriptomics work in the past with a polyploid organism, and this presented some unique challenges in the data processing and analysis. Since then, I have been brainstorming about ...
12
votes
1answer
3k views

How does Golgi's neural histological stain work?

What is known about the targets of Golgi staining of neurons? Are larger neurons more likely to be stained? Are specific cell types more susceptible than others? The current wikipedia article says ...
12
votes
3answers
149 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
854 views

How does a tree trunk sprout and grow after being cut?

After I cut trees into logs and remove the branches in winter, they start growing. They sprout out and grow completely normal looking stems and leaves and maintain them all summer. The sprouts mostly ...
12
votes
1answer
239 views

Can DNA act as a translation substrate?

I get conflicting answers. One would think if it was true, it would be rather seminal and widely known. There are papers from Khorana[1], Holland[2], and Bretscher[3] (late 60s) that suggest that it ...
12
votes
1answer
342 views

Is it correct that the body only responds to the most painful stimulus?

I'm rather ashamed to say that this question is partly based on an episode of House. I have previously heard that, if there are multiple simultaneous painful stimuli, the mind will only feel the ...
12
votes
1answer
162 views

Have any mutations or genetic loci been associated with exceptional longevity in humans?

Individuals that avoid age-related diseases into later life are known as 'exceptional survivors', and have increased longevity compared to their 'controls' (those that were born at a similar time, yet ...
12
votes
1answer
328 views

How are epigenetic marks transmitted during cell division?

As far as I know, this is one of the biggest questions in the epigenetic field: how are the epigenetic marks like histone modifications propagated through cell division? A lot is already known about ...
12
votes
1answer
344 views

Looking for a cancer drug target database to guide sequencing of patient tumor DNA

I have a question I would like to pose to the community. I have recently received access to a bench-top ion torrent DNA sequencer. Our idea is to use this machine to sequence the DNA from patient’s ...
11
votes
3answers
701 views

What evolutionary explanations are there for death?

I know death and cancer doesn't hurt humans' reproductive success. It's not helping either. Why do we die? Why dying humans (all of us) are common? What's the point of dying?
11
votes
3answers
482 views

Is Behe's experiment (evolving the bacterial flagellum) plausible in the lab?

[Warning: this question is motivated by a prominent proponent of "intelligent design": Prof. Michael Behe. I'm not interested in debating creationism.] According to Wikipedia[1]: In Darwin’s ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

Do cows produce milk excessively?

Do cows produce more milk than it is required for their calves? It seems like cows are able to provide milk all the time (all year around). Is it so? Or do they, like other mammals, produce milk only ...
11
votes
4answers
223 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
4answers
630 views

Has there ever been an attempt to create nutritionally tailored food for adult human consumption?

For all domestic animals, and for all animals kept in laboratory, complete and precise composition of perfect food is figured out (cat food, dog food, cattle, rats, laboratory monkeys and apes) -- ...
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 ...
11
votes
1answer
185 views

Are there any pre-Holocene venomous animals?

The novel (and subsequently movie) Jurassic Park featured a dinosaur called Dilophosaurus, that was purported to be venomous and had an ability similar to that of the extant spitting cobra. ...

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