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Question and answer

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Q&A articles in BMC Biology provide an easily digestible and lively guide to topics of current interest or fundamental importance. All Q&As are open access and free to read and share.

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  1. Bacterial cells have long been thought to be simple cells with little spatial organization, but recent research has shown that they exhibit a remarkable degree of subcellular differentiation. Indeed, bacteria ...

    Authors: Henning Kirst and Cheryl A. Kerfeld
    Citation: BMC Biology 2019 17:79
  2. Most cancer patients die due to metastasis formation. Therefore, understanding, preventing, and treating metastatic cancers is an unmet need. Recent research indicates that cancer cells that undergo metastasis...

    Authors: Sarah-Maria Fendt
    Citation: BMC Biology 2019 17:54
  3. Farmers around the world have recently experienced significant crop losses due to severe heat and drought. Such extreme weather events and the need to feed a rapidly growing population have raised concerns for...

    Authors: Kai P. Voss-Fels, Andreas Stahl and Lee T. Hickey
    Citation: BMC Biology 2019 17:18
  4. Array tomography encompasses light and electron microscopy modalities that offer unparalleled opportunities to explore three-dimensional cellular architectures in extremely fine structural and molecular detail...

    Authors: Stephen J Smith
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:98
  5. Caenorhabditis elegans neurons have recently been found to throw out cellular debris for remote degradation and/or storage, adding an “extracellular garbage elimination” option to known intracellular protein and ...

    Authors: Meghan Lee Arnold, Ilija Melentijevic, Anna Joelle Smart and Monica Driscoll
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:17
  6. Apoptosis is a form of programmed cell death that is carried out by proteolytic enzymes called caspases. Executioner caspase activity causes cells to shrink, bleb, and disintegrate into apoptotic bodies and ha...

    Authors: Gongping Sun and Denise J. Montell
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:92
  7. Mammalian organs comprise a variety of cells that interact with each other and have distinct biological roles. Access to evaluate and perturb intact biological systems at the cellular and molecular levels is e...

    Authors: Alon Greenbaum, Min J. Jang, Collin Challis and Viviana Gradinaru
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:87
  8. In this question and answer article we discuss how evolution shapes morphology (the shape and pattern of our bodies) but also how learning about morphology, and specifically how that morphology arises during d...

    Authors: Neal Anthwal and Abigail S. Tucker
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:83
  9. Neurons relevant to a particular behavior are often widely dispersed across the brain. To record activity in groups of individual neurons that might be distributed across large distances, neuroscientists and o...

    Authors: Nicholas James Sofroniew
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:82
  10. Genomic evidence has demonstrated that humans and Neanderthals interbred. Today, the genomes of most individuals outside Africa contain 2–3% Neanderthal DNA. However, it is still hotly debated why the Neandert...

    Authors: Kelley Harris and Rasmus Nielsen
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:73
  11. Individual neurons vary widely in terms of their gene expression, morphology, and electrophysiological properties. While many techniques exist to study single-cell variability along one or two of these dimensi...

    Authors: Cathryn R. Cadwell, Rickard Sandberg, Xiaolong Jiang and Andreas S. Tolias
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:58

    The Related Article to this article has been published in Nature Protocols 2017 12:nprot.2017.120

  12. Expansion microscopy (ExM) is a recently invented technology that uses swellable charged polymers, synthesized densely and with appropriate topology throughout a preserved biological specimen, to physically ma...

    Authors: Ruixuan Gao, Shoh M. Asano and Edward S. Boyden
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:50
  13. Salicylic acid (SA) is an important plant hormone that regulates many aspects of plant growth and development, as well as resistance to (a)biotic stress. Efforts to identify SA effector proteins have revealed ...

    Authors: D’Maris Amick Dempsey and Daniel F. Klessig
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:23
  14. Brassinosteroids (BRs) are a class of polyhydroxylated steroidal phytohormones in plants with similar structures to animals’ steroid hormones. Brassinosteroids regulate a wide range of physiological processes ...

    Authors: Jiao Tang, Zhifu Han and Jijie Chai
    Citation: BMC Biology 2016 14:113
  15. A significant part of the communication between plant cells is mediated by signaling peptides and their corresponding plasma membrane-localized receptor-like kinases. This communication mechanism serves as a k...

    Authors: Maike Breiden and Rüdiger Simon
    Citation: BMC Biology 2016 14:58
  16. Exosomes are extracellular vesicles first described as such 30 years ago and since implicated in cell–cell communication and the transmission of disease states, and explored as a means of drug discovery. Yet f...

    Authors: James R. Edgar
    Citation: BMC Biology 2016 14:46
  17. Karrikins are a family of compounds produced by wildfires that can stimulate the germination of dormant seeds of plants from numerous families. Seed plants could have ‘discovered’ karrikins during fire-prone t...

    Authors: Gavin R. Flematti, Kingsley W Dixon and Steven M. Smith
    Citation: BMC Biology 2015 13:108
  18. Plants are able to sense UV-B through the UV-B photoreceptor UVR8. UV-B photon absorption by a UVR8 homodimer leads to UVR8 monomerization and interaction with the downstream signaling factor COP1. This then i...

    Authors: Roman Ulm and Gareth I Jenkins
    Citation: BMC Biology 2015 13:45