Hello :)  I have looked up unanswered questions in biology on the internet but have never been able to get an answer I am looking for. If you could possibly tell me a few questions yet to be solved or point me to the right website? I really appreciate this! This is an incredible website by the way! Very interesting!

Erica Durham

Well there is obviously a huge amount of unanswered questiosnn out there, but in amny ways a lot of them are pretty small. I think it's fair to say we have the basics down on natural selection, sexual selection, behaviour, genetics, anatomy, physiology etc. pretty well. Obviously we have those both theoretically and as practical worked examples in some species, but there are tens of millions of species out there - we've barely scratched the surface of anything at a species-by-species level.

On that note, one obvious question is "How many species are there?". We really don't know. We have a lot of decent estiamtes, but some varey by tens of *millions* of species!

Hi Erica -
I think there is still a lot we don't know about gene regulation.  For example, I think we have only scratched the surface of the problem of how chromatin structure (the DNA + protein complex that makes up chromosomes) affects when and where genes are expressed.  This has huge implications for stem cell technologies, as while the DNA sequence is the same in a cloned animal compared to the parent, the epigenetic information (the composition of the proteins bound to the DNA) can be quite different.  Another example is enhancers.  These are stretches of DNA that specify when and where a given gene is turned on.  If we really understood everything that went into making an enhancer, we should be able to make synthetic ones from first principles in the lab.   I want to be able to write my initials on the side of a transgenic fruit fly embryo using synthetic enhancers and GFP.  And we are very far from being able to do this.

It depends somewhat on what you mean by solved - e.g., we still do not know exactly how we urinate! Concerning receptors that transduce ligand binding to intracellular signals in the brain and peripheral tissues, we do not know the full complement of receptors in the majority of tissues, the physiological role(s) for hundreds of receptors or the endogenous ligands (if they exist) for about 100 G protein-coupled receptors (so-called orphan GPCRs).

Last edited by Steve Lolait (26th Aug 2011 13:38:21)