14
votes
2answers
817 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
2answers
1k views

What's the difference between male and female?

As long as we only look at humans the differences are clear: males have chromosomes XY, produce sperm and don't get pregnant. Females have chromosomes XX, produce egg cells and bear babies. But when ...
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
963 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
3answers
2k views

What causes a 'stuffy' or 'runny' nose when you have a cold?

When humans get the common cold, a common symptom is a stuffy or runny nose. Is that the body's immune response or is that the virus's doing?
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
166 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
841 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
4answers
2k views

Why is the Hydra Biologically Immortal?

I have heard that the Hydra organism is biologically immortal (later I found that there are more immortal organisms). Now I know that its immortality is related to its telomerase. The thing is that we ...
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
2answers
340 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
684 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
324 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
601 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
3k 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
582 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
147 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
205 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
400 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
201 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
66k 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
355 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
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
34k 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
3k 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
3k 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
236 views

Are there any examples of proteins with no or minimal sequence identity, but highly similar structure?

What are they, and do they share a common ancestor? How far back in evolutionary time must we go to find them? If none are known, what computational tools might be used to search for such examples?
13
votes
5answers
2k views

Why are some genes dominant over others? What is the mechanism behind it?

If I have a brown eye gene which encodes the protein that is responsible for the brown color and have a blue eye gene as well, what is the reason that my eye color is brown? How does one gene maintain ...
13
votes
2answers
498 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 ...
13
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 ...
13
votes
2answers
4k views

How will rising carbon dioxide levels in the troposphere affect photosynthetic producers?

Much discussion has been had about the affects of climate change on plantlife, but how will rising carbon dioxide concentrations affect the photosynthetic process itself? Since CO₂ is a reagent in ...
13
votes
2answers
422 views

Evolution in 37 years, is it possible?

I am confused, can evolution ( speciation ) really occur in such a short time ? In 1971, biologists moved five adult pairs of Italian wall lizards from their home island of Pod Kopiste, in the ...
13
votes
3answers
738 views

Why is there a difference in the rotation of the tail fin in fish compared to marine mammals?

I've been thinking about this one, but I can't seem to find what causes this difference. All fishes that I've seen have their tail fin positioned vertical: But all the marine mammals I know have ...
13
votes
2answers
519 views

Intrinsically disordered proteins as potential drug targets

Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) are a class of proteins that do not adopt a stable secondary or tertiary structure under physiological conditions in vitro, but still have biological ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Why I have to pee more often in low temperature? [closed]

I realised that I have to pee more often in winter or simply the temperature is low. Is there any scientific explanation, or just simply psychology?
13
votes
2answers
680 views

Does testosterone increase female sexual behavior?

According to my lecture notes testosterone generally increases sexual behavior. Given that it's generally thought to be the male hormone I'm not quite sure whether they mean that it also increases ...

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