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Growth Hormone: A polypeptide that is secreted by the adenohypophysis (Pituitary gland, Anterior). Growth hormone, also known as somatotropin, stimulates mitosis, cell differentiation and cell growth. Species-specific growth hormones have been synthesized.

Endocrine Signaling

JoVE 10719

Endocrine cells produce hormones to communicate with remote target cells found in other organs. The hormone reaches these distant areas using the circulatory system. This exposes the whole organism to the hormone but only those cells expressing hormone receptors or target cells are affected. Thus, endocrine signaling induces slow responses from its target cells but these effects also last longer. There are two types of endocrine receptors: cell surface receptors and intracellular receptors. Cell surface receptors work similarly to other membrane bound receptors. Hormones, the ligand, bind to a hormone specific G-protein coupled receptor. This initiates conformational changes in the receptor, releasing a subunit of the G-protein. The protein activates second messengers which internalize the message by triggering signaling cascades and transcription factors. Many hormones work through cell surface receptors, including epinephrine, norepinephrine, insulin, prostaglandins, prolactin, and growth hormones. Steroid hormones, like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, transmit signals using intracellular receptors. These hormones are small hydrophobic molecules so they move directly past the outer cell membrane. Once inside, and if that cell is a target cell, the hormone binds to its receptor. Binding creates a conformational change in the receptor

 Core: Biology

Nature and Nurture

JoVE 10781

Many human characteristics, like height, are shaped by both nature—in other words, by our genes—and by nurture, or our environment. For example, chronic stress during childhood inhibits the production of growth hormones and consequently reduces bone growth and height. Scientists estimate that 70-90% of variation in height is due to genetic differences among individuals, and 10-30% of variation in height is due to differences in the environments that individuals experience, such as differences in diet. Many other phenotypes are similarly influenced by both genes and environments. Some of these phenotypes arise later in life, like cancer and other diseases. Hundreds of genes that influence height in humans have been identified. One study found that the most important factor explaining current differences in stature among men in different nations was the ratio between the intake of high-quality animal protein and low-quality proteins from grain and vegetables during childhood. The tallest early men are believed to be Upper Paleolithic hunters from the Gravettian culture, which thrived in Europe 34,000 to 26,000 years ago. Their stature (ranging from 5’10” to 6’2”) was due in part to a low population density and a diet abundant in high-quality animal protein. In modern times, increased stature is attributed

 Core: Biology

Recombinant DNA

JoVE 10808

Scientists create recombinant DNA by combining DNA from different sources—often, other species—in the laboratory. DNA cloning allows researchers to study specific genes by inserting them into easily manipulated cells, such as bacteria. Organisms that contain recombinant DNA are known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Recombinant DNA technology produces organisms with new genes that can benefit science, medicine, and agriculture. Creation of recombinant DNA involves inserting a gene of interest into a vector—a vehicle that carries foreign DNA into host cells for DNA replication and protein expression. The most commonly used cloning vectors are plasmids, small circular pieces of DNA that replicate independently from the host’s chromosomal DNA. To create recombinant DNA, both the donor DNA, including the gene of interest, and the vector are cut at specific nucleotide sequences—called restriction sites—using restriction enzymes. The enzyme DNA ligase seals the sugar-phosphate backbone where the gene of interest and plasmid connect. The result is a recombinant DNA molecule consisting of a vector with an integrated piece of donor DNA—called an insert. A scientist may then introduce this hybrid DNA molecule into a host organism—typically bacteria or yeast—where it easily and rapidly replicat

 Core: Biology

Plant Hormones

JoVE 11114

Plant hormones—or phytohormones—are chemical molecules that modulate one or more physiological processes of a plant. In animals, hormones are often produced in specific glands and circulated via the circulatory system. However, plants lack hormone-producing glands.

Instead, plant hormones are often produced in regions of active growth, like the tips of roots and shoots. Additionally, even very low concentrations of plant hormones can have a profound effect on growth and development processes. For instance, auxins are produced predominantly in shoot tips and transported from cell to cell down the stem. Auxins mediate a plethora of plant responses, such as cell elongation, fruit development, and phototropism—a plant’s movement toward or away from light. The classical plant hormones include auxins, gibberellins (GA), abscisic acid (ABA), cytokinins (CK), and ethylene (ET). More recently-discovered hormones include jasmonates (JA), brassinosteroids (BR), and peptides. These chemical compounds mediate crucial signaling cascades that ultimately lead to key processes associated with root and shoot development, flowering, fruit ripening, and plant morphogenesis. For example, auxins and cytokinins are mediators of plant cell division, elongation, and differentiation. Ethylene, which is the only gaseous hormone in plants, mediates f

 Core: Biology

Oogenesis

JoVE 10906

In human women, oogenesis produces one mature egg cell or ovum for every precursor cell that enters meiosis. This process differs in two unique ways from the equivalent procedure of spermatogenesis in males. First, meiotic divisions during oogenesis are asymmetric, meaning that a large oocyte (containing most of the cytoplasm) and minor polar body are produced as a result of meiosis I, and again following meiosis II. Since only oocytes will go on to form embryos if fertilized, this unequal distribution of cell contents ensures that there are enough cytoplasm and nutrients to nourish the early stages of development. Second, during oogenesis, meiosis “arrests” at two distinct points: once during embryonic growth and a second time during puberty. In mammals, oocytes are suspended in prophase I until sexual maturation, at which point meiosis I continues under hormonal influence until an egg precursor cell is released into a fallopian tube. At ovulation, the precursor exits the ovary and, only if fertilization occurs, is stimulated to complete meiosis II and form a complete egg. Defects during oogenesis can result in severe consequences. In particular, problems with chromosome segregation during either meiosis I or meiosis II may lead to an embryo being aneuploid, meaning that it contains an abnormal number of chromosomes. Increased age elevates a woman

 Core: Biology

Responses to Drought and Flooding

JoVE 11118

Water plays a significant role in the life cycle of plants. However, insufficient or excess of water can be detrimental and pose a serious threat to plants.

Under normal conditions, water taken up by the plant evaporates from leaves and other parts in a process called transpiration. In times of drought stress, water that evaporates by transpiration far exceeds the water absorbed from the soil, causing plants to wilt. The general plant response to drought stress is the synthesis of hormone abscisic acid that keeps stomata closed and reduces transpiration. Additionally, plants may respond to extreme water insufficiency by shedding leaves. This method, however, reduces photosynthesis and consequently hampers plant growth. Mitigation of drought stress in plants by microbes Drought stress limits the growth and productivity of plants in arid and semi-arid regions. However, certain microbes present in the vicinity of plants may release physical and chemical signals that induce changes related to plant defense under drought conditions. For example, the soil bacterium Paenibacillus polymyx is reported to induce drought tolerance in Arabidopsis. The most significant effect of this bacteria was observed in the growth of legumes under water stress. Leguminous plants depend on soil rhizobium for nitrogen fixation - but rhizobia are ext

 Core: Biology

Responses to Gravity and Touch

JoVE 11117

Gravitropism: Plant Responses to Gravity

Higher plants sense gravity using statocytes, cells found near the vascular tissue in shoots, and in the root cap columella in roots. Statocytes contain starch-filled organelles called statoliths. The statoliths settle, or sediment, at the bottom of the statocyte in the direction of gravity.

Statolith sedimentation triggers a signaling cascade, resulting in the asymmetrical distribution of the plant hormone auxin across root and shoot tips. This process generates a lateral auxin gradient, in which auxin levels are higher on the lower sides of roots and shoots. In roots, the higher auxin concentration on the lower side inhibits cell expansion. Cells will, therefore, expand more rapidly on the upper side, causing the root to bend downward. In contrast, the higher auxin concentration on the lower side of shoots promotes cell expansion. Cells expand more rapidly on the lower side, causing shoots to bend upward. Thigmotropism: Plant Responses to Touch Climbing plants have tendrils - modified shoots that coil around objects. The tips of such tendrils have touch-sensitive sensory epidermal cells that trigger differential growth. Here, cells on the side of the tendril that touches the object grow more slowly than those on the side opposite the point of contact, a

 Core: Biology

Physiology of the Circulatory System- Concept

JoVE 10625

Homeostasis

Conditions in the external environment of an organism can change rapidly and drastically. To survive, organisms must maintain a fairly constant internal environment, which involves continuous regulation of temperature, pH, and other factors. This balanced state is known as homeostasis, which describes the processes by which organisms maintain their optimal internal…

 Lab Bio

Plant Tissue Culture

JoVE 11112

Plant tissue culture is widely used in both primary and applied science. Applications range from plant development studies to functional gene studies, crop improvement, commercial micropropagation, virus elimination, and conservation of rare species.

Plant tissue culture depends on the ability of plant tissue to give rise to an entire new plant when provided with a growth medium and appropriate environment. This ability of plant cells or tissues is termed ‘totipotency.’ The fundamental steps of plant tissue culture are fourfold: Select a healthy parent plant (explant). Eliminate any microbial contamination from any exposed explant surfaces. Inoculation the explant in an adequate culture medium. Incubation of the explant in a controlled environment with appropriate temperature, humidity, air quality, and illumination. There are also four different types of plant tissue culture, which may be chosen based upon the goals of the culture, or plant species: cell culture (such as gametic cells, cell suspension, and protoplast culture). tissue culture (callus and differentiated tissues). organ culture (any organs such as roots, shoots, and anthers). One of the popular applications of plant tissue culture is the in vitro clonal propagation - als

 Core: Biology

The Apoplast and Symplast

JoVE 11106

Plant growth depends on its ability to take up water and dissolved minerals from the soil. The root system of every plant is equipped with the necessary tissues to facilitate the entry of water and solutes. The plant tissues involved in the transport of water and minerals have two major compartments - the apoplast and the symplast. The apoplast includes everything outside the plasma membrane of living cells and consists of cell walls, extracellular spaces, xylem, phloem, and tracheids. The symplast, in contrast, consists of the entire cytosol of all living plant cells and the plasmodesmata - which are the cytoplasmic channels interconnecting the cells. There are several potential pathways for molecules to move through the plant tissues: The apoplastic, symplastic, or transmembrane pathways. The apoplastic pathway involves the movement of water and dissolved minerals along cell walls and extracellular spaces. In the symplastic route, water and solutes move along the cytosol. Once in this pathway, materials need to cross the plasma membrane when moving from cell to neighboring cell, and they do this via the plasmodesmata. Alternatively, in the transmembrane route, the dissolved minerals and water move from cell to cell by crossing the cell wall to exit one cell and enter the next. These three pathways are not mutually exclusive, and some solutes may use more than on

 Core: Biology
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