The Latest Articles from Biological Sciences Review
Biological Sciences Review, April 2023
Barley and lesion mimim mutants: keys to understanding the plant immune system: Barley is one of the world’s most important cereal crops, so it is crucial to protect it from disease/ Plant biologist Laura Civolani explores how geneticists can help. This article supports your study of cell recognition and the immune system in Cells, investigating diversity in Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms, and regulation of transcription in The control of gene expression. Look for the practice exam questions in this article.
Bacterial biofilms and their significance: Many bacteria form communities of cells – biofilms – on a range of different surfaces. Microbiologist Oluwatsoin Orababa explains what biofilms are and their significance. This article supports your study of Biological molecules and the structure of prokaryotic cells in Cells.
Bioethics: evolution in the twenty-first century: Some animals are thriving in human environments, adapting to them through natural selection. Rebecca Nesbit introduces some examples and considers ethical issues associated with how humans respond to evolutionary changes that arise as a result of human activity. This article supports your study of genetic diversity and adaptation in Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms and populations in ecosystems in Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems.
Interface: what do microbes do for us? There are at least a billion species of microbe. Some have a bad reputation for impacting our health, but many microbes are useful. Virologist Claire Donald discusses some of the ways we can take advantage of their strengths for our own benefit.
Brain tumour radiotheraphy: a double-edged sword: Radiotherapy is an effective treatment for brain tumours, but can cause unavoidable damage to healthy surrounding tissue. Improved treatments are being developed that combine radiation with new drugs. Understanding how these drugs affect healthy tissue is key to developing these new therapies.
Upgrade: practical advice: Practical work is a very important aspect of biology. It enables you to acquire and practise the skills you may need to pass a practical exam. Examiner Nick Porteus gives advice on some of the common practical-based investigations that you may perform, and explains how to address questions on the data they generate.
Lipids, membranes and beyond: Cells are separated from their neighbours and environment by lipid membranes only 5-10 nanometres thick. Biophysicist Darius Koster explores recent research that has extended our understanding of membrane structure and function. This article supports your study of lipids, methods of studying cells and transport across cell membranes in your unit on Cells.
Psoriasis: scratching the surface: Some 60% of people in the UK currently have, or have had, a skin condition. Immunologist Megan Priestley explores psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that affects the skin. This article supports your study of cell recognition and the immune system. Look out for the practice exam questions in this article.
Evaluating experiments: wild gull chase: Professor or behaviour genetics Kevin O’Dell takes us on a journey to Canada, where he introduces a bounty of birds with a range of traits, in order to challenge us with chi-square calculations and the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium.
Images of biology: jumpin’ pumpkins: The cloud forests of southeastern Brazil have many endemic plants and animals. These include several species of the cutely termed pumpkin toadlets.
Biological Sciences Review, February 2023
Guillain-Barre syndrome: from food poisoning to paralysis: Guillain-Barre syndrome affects the peripheral neurones. It often starts with a tingling in the hands and feet, but can spread, causing paralysis of arm and leg muscles and the muscles that control breathing. In rare cases it can be fatal. Neurobiologist Maddy Cunningham explains how the syndrom can be triggered by food poisoning. This article supports your study of the the immune system and skeletal muscles in your units on Cells and Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments.
The cytoskeleton: Most students studying biology are familiar with the structure and function of the nucelus and major organelles found in eukaryotic cels. But what surrounds these organelles?
Can insects be warm-blooded? Insects have diverse mechanisms that alter their body temperature, from shivering to rolling dung balls and drooling. Insect physiologist Lucy Alford explores the strage world of insect thermal regulation. This article supports your study of the principles of homeostasis in your unit Organsisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments. Look out for the practice exam questions in this article.
Multiple-sclerosis and vitamin D: can sunshine reduce the severity of the disease? Biochemist Alexandra Tarjovski explores the possible link between vitamin D deficiency and the development and progression of multiple sclerosis. This article links to your study of the immune system, nervous coordination and the regulation of transcription and translation in your units on Cells, Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments and Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms. Look out for the practice exam questions in this article.
Impact: coral reefs need our help: Coral bleaching is happening in oceans all over the world. Marine biologist Katie Allen explains what it is, why it happens and what is being done to restore damaged reefs.
The asprete: Kevin Moffat introduces Europe’s rarest fish, which is now facing extinction as a result of human activity.
Grey seals in the UK: Now considered ‘least concern’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, grey seals have in the past declined to the brink of extinction due to human activites. Ecologist Daire Carroll explains the tools we use to understand grey seal population growth and behaviour. This aticle supports your study of the sustainability of natural resources in your unit on Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems.
Outside the box: making brains: brain organoids as models: Little balls of brain tissue can be grown from human stem cells. Within these structures nerve cells develop, form connections and communicate with each other. Neuroscientist Guy Sutton explains how brain organoids can be used to study development and disease.
Interface: rewilding: We are in the midst of our planet’s sixth mass extinction. Biology teacher Ailis Kane discusses rewilding as a strategy to boost global biodiversity.
Upgrade: avoiding classic exam mistakes: Senior examiner Nick Porteus gives advice on how to avoid some of the most common mistakes when answering biology exam questions. Look out for the practice exam questions in this article.
Prospects: from tigers to TV: Megan McCubbin is a zoologist, photographer and wildlife presenter. She spoke to Biological Sciences Review about her work, and the route that led her there.
Imgaes of biology: cancer model: Dr Sofia Polcownuk explains how their research uses the fruit fly as a model organism as they are studying gut diseases, including colorectal cancer.
Biological Sciences Review, November 2022
Plants, water and nutrients: how root systems work: For large plants, like this lemon tree, being able to control the absorption and circulation of water and nutrients is essential for growth and reproduction. Botanist James Dinsley describes the ways in which plants absorb essential ions and water through their root networks. This article supports your study of gas exchange in the leaves of dicotyledonous plants and mass transport in plants in your unit on Organisms exchange substances with their environment. It also supports your study of nutrient cycles in your unit on Energy transfers in and between organisms.
Pangolins: the tiny dragons we are driving to extinction: Pangolins are an order of scaled mammals. Globally they are though to be the most illegally trafficked mammals. Here, zoologist and conservationist Jess Harvey-Carroll explores the world of pangolins and the threats to their survival. This article supports your study of species and taxonomy in your unit on Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms. Look out for the practice exam questions in this article.
What is…? Masting: Many perennial plants show huge variation in annual fruit producttion. Yars with bumper crops are knows as mast years. Ecologist Andrew Hacket-Pain explains how this happens, and outlines the environmental significance of masting.
Upgrade: not so scary statistics: Biology teacher Nick Porteus demystifies and clarifies what you need to know about tackling questions that include statistical tests, p values and a null hypothesis. Look out for the practice questions in this article.
Do you know your fruit? In the article, ‘What is masting?’ on p. 12, were you surprised to find an acorn described as a fruit? if so, you might also be surprised to learn that a tomato is also a fruit, as is a cucumber and an aubergine. What is a fruit?
Electric eels: Stunning fish; electricity supply; social predation; eel insulation.
Interface: wolves: Yellowstone’s missing link: a rewilding story: Wolves have been shot, caught and captured by humans for thousands of years but, for some people, the wolf’s haunting howl carries a wild magic. Consultant editor of Biological Sciences Review Ceri Harrop tells the story of how wolves saved Yellowstone National Park.
Effects of microbes on animal behaviour: Evolutionary biologist Zenobia Lewis explains how microbes affect behaviour of large animals, including humans.
Neurodegenerative disease and lifelong health in footballers: High-profile cases of neurodegenerative brain disease in former professional footballers suggest a possible link with repeated trauma when heading the ball. Neuroscientist Emma Russell explains. This article supports your study of nervous coordination in your unit on Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments.
Spotlight: horseshoe crabs: are they crabs? These charismatic creatires are keystone species. They also have evolutionary, historical, commercial and biomedical importance. Biodiversity enthusiast Liz Sheffield shines a spotlight on them.
Prospects: working in biosecurity: Introduced pests and dieases are a threat to plants, crops, wildlife and, occasionally, human health. But don’t panic. In the UK, Hannah Magee works with a nationwide team of inspectors to defend our borders from uninvited plant hitchhikers.
Happy birthday, Gregor Mendel: A brief overview of the life of the ‘Father of Genetics’.
Images of biology: manta rays have best friends: Manta rays are among the largest fish in the ocean, and by far one of the most loved among the scuba diving community. And for good reason.
Biological Sciences Review, September 2022
The trouble with tropical soils: high productivity and the illusion of fertility: The combination of factors that makes rainforests dense and productive aso makes the soil acidic and nutrient poor. Ecologist Jonny Miller explores this apparent paradox and why deforestation of tropical rainforests to grow crops can results in ecological catastrophe. This article supports your units in Energy transfers in and between organisms and Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems (specifically energy and ecosystems, nutrient cycles and populations in ecosystems.
What is…? The extracellular matrix: The extracellular matrix accounts for most of your dry body mass. Immunologist Hannah Tompkins explains what the extracellular matrix is and how it supports the human body.
Lipid digestion: emulsion, micelles and chylomicrons
Spotlight: give wasps a chance: Wasps are much maligned and mostly misunderstood. They are generally seen as malicious and vengeful. Entomologist Richard Jones loves wasps. He answers the big question – what is the point of wasps, other tan to deliver a painful sting?
Ancient DNA: looking into plant extinction: Biologist Annabelle de Vries explains how she gets genomic information from an extinct plant species by analysing DNA from a 320-year-old specimen. This article supports your units on Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms and The control of gene expression (specifically investigating diversity and using genome projects.) Look out for the practice exam questions in this article.
Animal health surveillance: What if we could tell if an animal was sick without having to examine it? With a combination of drones, thermal imaging and machine learning, we are attempting to do exactly that – to enable faster treatment and interventions.
Double agents and nerve agents: how poisons work: From spies to cosmetics, neuroscientist Phoebe Wallman investigates the science and history of some of the most infamous nerve poisons. She follows the bizarre story of how a poisoned double agent was treated with another poison, and shows how poisons can be harnessed for the greater good. This article supports your unit on Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments (specifically control of heart rate and nervous coordination).
Technology to the rescue: how AI and big data can protect elephants: African savannah elephants are threatened owing to the illegal ivory trade. Conservation expert Adam Hart explains how new technologies can provide novel anti-poaching measures.
Sleep: why is it important? The need for sleep has been recorded throughout the animal kingdom. Neurobiologist Catherine McCrohan explores the nature of sleep and how understanding sleep in animals may help unravel its control and function.
Body shape evolution: adaptation improves survival chances in vertebrates: The first vertebrates came onto land over 300 million years ago. Since then, adaptations to their environments have enhanced their survival. Zoologist and palaeontologist Alice Maher explains. This article supports your unit on Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems (specifically evolution may lead to speciation.) Look out for the practice exam questions in this article.
Upgrade: the right tools for the job: Many students fear examiners, believing they are ‘out to get them’. Nothing could be further from the truth. Examination boards make a wealth of information available to students. Former chief examiner Martin Rowland discusses how students can obtain this information and how they should use it.
Images of biology: biomarkers in prostate cancer: A biomarker is a term given to any biological molecule or characteristic that can be measured to reflect a disease or a physiological state.
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