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Cellular and molecular neuroscience is one of the newest and fastest growing subdisciplines in neuroscience. By investigating the influences of genes, signaling molecules, and cellular morphology, researchers in this field uncover crucial insights into normal brain development and function, as well as the root causes of many pathological conditions.
Density gradient ultracentrifugation is a common technique used to isolate and purify biomolecules and cell structures. This technique exploits the fact that, in suspension, particles that are more dense than the solvent will sediment, while those that are less dense will float. A high-speed ultracentrifuge is used to accelerate this process in order to separate biomolecules within a density…
Cells represent the most basic biological units of all organisms, whether it be simple, single-celled organisms like bacteria, or large, multicellular organisms like elephants and giant redwood trees. In the mid 19th century, the Cell Theory was proposed to define a cell, which states:
Every living organism is made up of one or more cells.
Molecular signals play a major role in the complex processes occurring during embryonic development. These signals regulate activities such as cell differentiation and migration, which contribute to the formation of specific cell types and structures. The use of molecular approaches allows researchers to investigate these physical and chemical mechanisms in detail.
In 1866, Gregor Mendel published the results of his pea plant breeding experiments, providing evidence for predictable patterns in the inheritance of physical characteristics. The significance of his findings was not immediately recognized. In fact, the existence of genes was unknown at the time. Mendel referred to hereditary units as “factors.”
The mechanisms underlying Mendel’s observations—the basis of his laws of segregation and independent assortment—remained elusive. In the late 1800s, advances in microscopy and staining techniques allowed scientists to visualize mitosis and meiosis for the first time. In the early 1900s, Theodor Boveri, Walter Sutton, and others independently proposed that chromosomes may underlie Mendel’s laws—the chromosomal theory of inheritance. Researching sea urchins and grasshoppers, respectively, Boveri and Sutton noted striking similarities between chromosomes during meiosis and Mendel’s factors. Like Mendel’s factors, chromosomes come in pairs. Reminiscent of Mendel’s law of segregation, these pairs become separated during meiosis such that every gamete (e.g., sperm or egg) receives one chromosome from each pair. Chromosome pairs are segregated independently of one another, corresponding to Mendel’s law of independent assortment. The first c…
Visualizing Onion and Cheek Cells
Immediately before the experiment, wash and peel onion bulbs for the class.
Remove the entire brown outer skin and cut the onion in half with a knife. Pull apart the layers of the onion. The thin, nearly transparent film layers within the onion will be used by the students.
Place the onion film into a Petri…