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Question and answer

Question-and-answer articles in BMC Biology provide an easily digestible and often lively guide to topics of current interest or fundamental importance. Some are pedagogic (for example, on epistasis or cooperativity), some question the meaning of widely used terms (biodiversity, pathogenicity), some are both topical and pedagogic (on fructose toxicity, or on what we have learned from the 2010-2011 influenza pandemic), some are topical, pedagogic and quirky (on the definition of life); and the video and audio Q&As (with edited transcripts) represent the point of view of prominent individuals.

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  1. Content type: Question and Answer

    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

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  2. Content type: Question and Answer

    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

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  3. Content type: Question and Answer

    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

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  4. Content type: Question and Answer

    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

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  5. Content type: Question and Answer

    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

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  6. Content type: Question and Answer

    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

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  7. Content type: Question and Answer

    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

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  8. Content type: Question and Answer

    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

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  9. Content type: Question and Answer

    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

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  10. Content type: Question and Answer

    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

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  11. Content type: Question and Answer

    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

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  12. Content type: Question and Answer

    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

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  13. Content type: Question and Answer

    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

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  14. Content type: Question and answer

    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

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