Biome Map: Definition, Examples, And Why It Is Important

If you want to gain a better understanding of all living things, from plants to animals, it’s essential to learn about biomes and the role they play in Biology. Learn how to read a biome map and define each type of biome in the world.

Biome Map: Definition, Examples, And Practice

Biomes are an interesting and important part of Biology, and without understanding what a biome is and how it works, you don’t have a full understanding of Biology. Let’s take an in-depth look at biomes, so you can take a look at a biome map and understand it; learning about biomes can also better prepare you for if you’re ever tested on a map of biomes.

What Is A Biome?

While you might have learned a little about biomes when you were in elementary school, there’s a good chance that you don’t have a biome map memorized or know about all of the biomes. As we all know, the entire surface of the planet has some lifeform, but it varies depending on factors like vegetation, climate, water, and light. A biome is classified by the flora and fauna (dominant plants and animal life) that resides in that particular area; the plants and animals that live in a biome are also known as biota. While some biomes share some characteristics, each type is unique, and the smaller units in a biome are what we know best as a habitat.Biomes are often mistakenly referred to as ecosystems (and vice versa). An ecosystem is made up of living organisms and the relationship that they have in their nonliving environment. There are many examples of ecosystems but think about a dark cave in a secluded part of the world and all of the known (and unknown) living things that live in the cave.One of the reasons why ecosystems may be easily confused with biomes is that a biome may have many different ecosystems.

Exploring The Different Types Of Biomes

If you look at a biome map, you will notice that it is color-coded with a key that refers to different types of biomes. Depending on what map you look at and who is teaching you about biomes, you may only learn about five biomes, which include tundra, grassland, forest, desert, and aquatic; sometimes it’s six basic biomes be splitting the aquatic into marine and freshwater.As you might guess, these biomes are basic, have a broad definition, and may refer to many parts of the globe. In order to gain a better understanding of Biology as a whole, you may want to consider learning more about other biomes like the rainforest, temperate forest, chaparral, taiga, savanna, temperate grasslands, and freshwater or marine.Younger learners or individuals who just want some basic information on biomes may benefit from learning about the broad classifications, but taking the time to learn about other biomes (and their specialized classifications) can help understand the world as a whole.As you explore biomes, it’s not uncommon to see different biomes in the same area, and often there are no clear boundaries from one biome to the next. If you were to compare a map of biomes from thousands of years ago to today, you’d see a completely different map.Climate change plays a significant role in how biomes are defined and where they are located on a map. The major biomes typically correspond to the climatic zones, such as a tropical wet climate.

Tundra

Man and dogs in snowAs you might already imagine, the tundra biome is located in the northernmost regions on a map of biomes. A tundra is flat, cold, but still has plant life during the short growing season. A variety of birds call the tundra their home during the summer and migrate in the winter. Smaller mammals thrive in their habitats under the snow.

Grassland

grasslandThe grassland biome is often referred to as plains or prairie, due to the large areas of a variety of grasses. Grasslands typically receive minimal rain and are often at high risk for fires. Even though there is not a large variety of flora, the biome is home to large herding mammals. Grassland is found on every continent except for Antarctica.

Forests

forest with rocksThe forest biome makes up about one-third of the Earth’s land area, and as you might imagine, there are more classifications to the forest biome than “just trees.” The tropical rainforest has two seasons, 12-hour days, and has little variation in the climate. You’re most likely to find tropical rainforest countries near the equator like South America, Southeast Asia, and Southern Africa.forests with sunraysA temperate forest biome is most frequently found in eastern parts of North America, northeastern Asian, and western and central parts of Europe. Animals from small mammals (squirrels) to predators (black bears) call the biome their home. The boreal or taiga forest is similar to the temperate forest biome and is found in Siberia, Scandinavia, Alaska, and Canada. The taiga forest biome doesn’t have as long of growing seasons as the temperate forest, and the climate is cold and dry.

Deserts

desert with camelsIt’s not uncommon to see all types of desert biomes lumped into one broad desert biome and again, depending on the map you’re looking at or who is teaching information about biomes, the classifications may be different. Some people break down the desert biome even further to include hot and dry, semiarid, coastal and cold. If you live in the U.S., you may be most familiar with a hot and dry desert biome, as it includes four of the major deserts in North America. The seasons are very dry and warm year round.desertSemiarid desert biomes may be found in parts of the U.S., but are also found in Newfoundland, Greenland, Europe, and parts of Asia. There are more flora and fauna in semiarid biomes than the hot and dry.The coastal desert biome sees moderate rainfall and the cold desert biome experiences heavy snowfall; both have plants and animals that have adapted to the environment (much like every other biome on the map)

Aquatic

sea turtle underwaterWhen exploring a map of biomes, it’s important not to overlook the aquatic biome. While many people pay close attention to flora and fauna throughout the various biomes “on land,” there’s plenty to consider when we look at the bodies of water.The aquatic biome is typically divided into freshwater and saltwater (or marine) biomes. From there it might be broken down even more to ponds or lakes, rivers, oceans, and estuaries.sting ray underwaterIt’s essential to think about aquatic biomes because just like other biomes, climate change and other environmental factors affect these “off land” biomes, which over time will change the layout of a map of biomes.

Why Are Biome Maps Important?

world biomes mapImage Source: askabiologist.asu.eduNow that you have a better understanding of the different biomes and how one map could be different from another, you might be wondering why biome maps are so important. As we mentioned earlier, learning about biomes and understanding where they are in the world can help us understand all living organisms. Biome maps can help people learn about places they may never get to see; the map may open their eyes to a new species of animal or a unique variety of flora. Biome maps may be a basic resource for understanding Biology, but without the maps, we know very little about Biology, it’s past, and what might be in store for the future of our planet.Even though we may not see drastic changes to our environment in our lifetime, we can see small scales changes such as more prairie fires or decreasing populations of a specific bird.To some, these may not seem like that big of a deal when comparing it to the world at large, but it can give us some idea as to how biome maps will continue to evolve.

Making The Most Of A Biome Map

Not only are biome maps an important resource to use in a Biology course, but it can be used in a variety of fields such as Agriculture. The United States Department of Agriculture can utilize the map to learn more about soil distribution while conservation programs can strive to protect biomes that need it the most.

If your goal is to learn how to draw a map of biomes or memorize it for a class, you might want to consider the following tips.

  • Familiarize yourself with Geography; you can’t make a map without knowing where places are located.
  • Use the knowledge you already have. Think about living organisms and where they live. Can you guess what type of biome (or biomes) are in this area?
  • Get to know a climatic map. Remember climatic zones may correspond with specific biomes.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Make several copies of a blank world map.
  • Use a color-code and key that’s easy to read. Choose colors that stand out from one another.

What Does New Research Say About Slowing the Aging Process?

As we age, our bodies change significantly. Some of the effects of aging are quite apparent. For many, the skin loses its elasticity, the hair begins to turn gray, and mobility becomes much more challenging. It comes as no surprise that many people are looking for ways to slow and reverse the process of getting older.

But what does new research say about slowing the aging process? Is it possible? And to what degree does slowing the aging process affect the typical quality of life? In this article, we’ll look at what scientists have discovered so far in hopes of shining some light on the inevitable process of getting older.

Slowing the Aging Process

Slowing the Aging Process
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Over the past few years, there have been more than a few studies on slowing down and even reversing the aging process.  With age often comes disease and scientists are eager to cut down on the painful and expensive plights of old age. Recently a few different methods have shown promising success regarding the pace of aging.

Why We Age

Why We Age
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To understand how researchers suggest we can slow the process of aging, one must first understand why we age, to begin with. Over the last thirty years or so, technological advances have allowed scientists to take a closer look at why we age.

In general, scientists now know that aging is controlled by genetic factors and biological process that occur naturally in the human body. More specifically, aging occurs because of the following reasons:

  • Telomere Shortening
  • Genome Damage
  • Mitochondrial Dysfunction
  • Non-Genetic Factors
  • Unfolded Protein Build-Up
  • Stem Cell Exhaustion
  • Cellular Deterioration

Slowing Down the Aging Process

Slowing Down the Aging Process
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But what does new research say about slowing the aging process? A continuously growing body of research has revealed that a few different techniques can be used to slow down or reverse the process of getting older. These techniques include but are not necessarily limited to the following:

  • Intermittent Fasting
  • Stress Management
  • Meditation
  • Regular Exercise
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Eating Healthy

What Does the Research Say?

Delving further into what scientists have to say about slowing the aging process, below we will discuss each of the age-slowing methods mentioned above. To keep things well-organized, we’ll start off with the most recent research and go from there.

Regular Exercise

Regular Exercise Slowing Down the Aging Process
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Multiple recent studies have been conducted to establish any potential connection between regular exercise and longevity. In 2018, researchers confirmed that regular activity continued through the entire lifespan can decrease the chance of muscle decline in old age. Compared to their sedentary counterparts, active seniors were shown to have less age-related muscle deterioration.

Besides, regular exercise has been shown to promote the body’s immune system. A typical side effect of aging is reduced thymus size and an inability to stave off disease. Researchers found that regular cycling can cause the immune system to behave in a more “youthful” manner regarding white blood cell activity.

As a final note on regular exercise, researchers in 2017 found that vigorous activity can both promote mitochondrial capacity and increased telomere length. These two factors are essential when considering the process of aging, and both indicate that regular exercise is an excellent way to decrease the speed of getting older.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting
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Intermittent fasting has become somewhat trendy in the diet world lately, and for a good reason. In addition to stunning weight-loss related results, a study published in late 2017 suggests that the same technique could be a critical component to extending lifespan and slowing the aging process.

This study, published by Harvard researchers in October 2017 provides useful insight into the way that cells process energy over time. Researchers in this study used nematode worms to investigate the state of mitochondrial networks across the lifespan of the organisms.

Researchers used two techniques to mimic the process of intermittent fasting in their test subjects. The first involved merely restricting diet, while the second method used manipulation of a specific “energy-sensing” protein (AMPK). Both processes showed that intermittent diet restriction has a significant impact on mitochondrial networks.

In both types of dietary restriction, researchers noted that mitochondrial networks maintained a certain “youthfulness” in that they retained their fused state. This fused state promoted communications between the mitochondria and other organelles that modulate fat metabolism.

While this is indeed not the first study to show that intermittent fasting can accommodate graceful aging, it is a pivotal step in understanding why this technique can reduce the pace of getting older.

Stress Management

7 Stress Management Tips
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Stress has long been known to contribute to certain diseases such as increased blood pressure and depression. Recent research has revealed even more evidence that chronic stress is unhealthy. In particular, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have discovered a link in constant pressure and decreased levels of klotho.

Klotho has been recognized as a link in the mysteries of aging for quite some time. Previous studies have indicated that increased levels of klotho subsequently increase lifespan in different types of animals. However, this study from 2015 is the first to present a potential link between chronic stress and significantly decreased levels of klotho.

Dipping in a little further, it becomes apparent that proper stress management is crucial to increasing overall lifespan. By mitigating stress, it is possible that klotho levels will rise and subsequently lead to a slower aging process and a longer life.

Positive Mindset

It’s always a good idea to maintain a positive mindset, but as it turns out this concept is even more crucial when considering the process of aging. This study, published in 2016, shows a critical connection between how we think about aging compared to how we age.

Researchers showed that keeping a positive mindset about aging compared favorably against mindsets that embraced the difficulties of old age. In other words, people who believed that aging would bring with it poor memory and high blood pressure would develop these ailments more readily than those who did not believe in the inevitability of a shortened old age.

This study speaks volumes to the power of a positive mindset and the ability to slow the aging process by reducing stress. Because the mind is our most powerful tool for reducing our stress, and subsequently increasing telomere longevity, it is entirely crucial to engage in activities that will promote healthy cognitive function.

Meditation

Meditation Stress Management
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In this 2013 study of yogic meditation, researchers identified a definite link between brief daily meditation practice and an increase of telomerase activity. Also, those participating in a regular meditation practice saw a significant decrease in depressive symptoms and an increase in cognitive function.

The combined cognitive benefits and increased telomerase activity suggest that including a regular meditation practice can have incredible benefits on lifespan. As mentioned above, high-stress levels can contribute to premature aging in numerous ways. By increasing telomerase activity with meditation, cellular aging is slowed down.

By improving the daily lives of those who practice regular meditation, it can be presumed that reflection will positively contribute to the slowing of the aging process. Decreased depressive symptoms eliminate unnecessary stress and subsequently promote healthy and slow going aging.

Eating Healthy

Eating Healthy
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It may come as no surprise that in addition to reducing stress and exercising regularly, eating healthy can promote a decrease in the pace of aging. Studies as recent as 2015 have continued to support healthy diet as a critical component to a long and healthy life.

Most recently, researchers have turned their focus to specific bioactive compounds that can slow down the aging of cells in the body. These compounds are typically found in fruits and vegetables and certain other foods like cacao and tea.

In previous research, scientists noted the benefits of consuming bioactive compounds for compromised populations. Recently it has been discovered that the same benefits are available to healthy adults as well. If you fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods, your cells will function well and resist the typical strains of old age.

So, what does new research say about slowing the aging process? Further research concerning the aging process mirrors what scientists have known for years. A healthy lifestyle is crucial for a long life.

While today’s studies are increasingly sophisticated in design, researchers are merely opening doors to understanding why health and longevity are so closely intertwined. In addition to the methods of promoting cellular survival mentioned above, it is important to note that genetics and social factors also impact how long we live.

In areas of the world that have the most substantial numbers of nonagenarians and centenarians, communities are thriving. These cultures enjoy all of the benefits listed above as a community and as such residents tend to live longer.

As technology continues to develop, we will undoubtedly discover more in-depth explanations regarding the process of aging. Accordingly, it is likely that we will reveal new methods to extend the lifespan of cells and further slow the aging process.

How the Human Brain Creates Memories and Processes Thoughts

It can be fascinating to wonder about the marvels of the human brain. Unlike most other animals, humans are self-aware. We can think, plan, and recall events that have happened in and around our lives. Despite our incredible capacity for thought, how the human brain creates memories and processes thoughts can still be quite a mystery.

How The Brain is Structured

 

It’s crucial, to begin with, the basic structure of the brain to start to understand how the human mind creates memories and processes thoughts. For the most part, animals all have relatively similar brain form. In this essential form, the innermost parts of the brain are the oldest in and have not changed much over years of evolution.

These inner parts of the brain control our most basic survival instincts such as breathing, resting, moving, and feeding. As you move away from the spinal cord, additional layers provide the capacity for higher thinking and better memory. In humans, our outermost layer of the brain is called the cerebral cortex, and it is incredibly sophisticated.

With such a highly developed outer brain layer we are capable of much more than the most basic survival functions. For example, humans frequently develop intricate social networks,  can retain memories for long periods of time and can experience emotions.

How We Form Thoughts

How The Brain is Structured
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Moving forward from the underlying structure that allows for the formation of higher thinking patterns, we delve further into how thoughts are processed. The brain is composed of specialized cells known as neurons and support cells called glia.

As you probably know, neurons are the cells most commonly associated with the nervous system. However, it is important to note that without glial cells, the neurons in the brain would not be able to function at all. Many different types of glial cells exist in the brain and provide numerous benefits to the neurons.

Glial Cells

delveinsight.com
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More specifically, glial cells provide the following benefits to neurons:

  • Guide Developing Neurons to Their Destinations
  • Protect Neurons from Harmful Ions and Chemicals
  • Provide Myelin Sheaths Around Axons
  • Modulate Communication Between Nerve Cells

As you can see, these lesser-known cells are incredibly crucial to a fully functioning human brain. In fact, without these essential support cells, humans would not be capable of processing thoughts or forming memories.

Neurons

Neurons Brain
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Neurons are the specialized cells that receive all forms of sensory input from the external world and communicate that information to the body and brain. Compared to other types of cells, neurons have a unique tree-like shape that fosters the work of delivering information throughout the body.

While much is unknown about the inner workings of the brain, scientists have discovered that neurons behave in a pretty specific manner. There are three main parts to each neuron; the cell body, the dendrites, and the axon. When exposed to an electrical impulse, information moves from the dendrites to the cell body and then to the axon.

Once the electrical impulse moves to the end of the axon, it reaches the synapse. Here the signal moves from one neuron to the next by way of a neurotransmitter. The neurotransmitter stimulates the next neuron, and the process begins again.

When neurons absorb information from the wide variety of stimuli we come in contact with every day, billions of connections can occur through the neural pathways described above. These connections are what lead to our perceptions about the world around us. Furthermore, these connections work together to create our thoughts.

But what happens after the brain has “processed”  thought in this manner? Does it all just end there?

How We Store Thoughts

Store Thoughts Brain
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Now that we have outlined a basic understanding of how thoughts come to be, we can continue to work out how the human brain creates memories and processes thoughts. It’s important to understand that neuroscience is a very complicated discipline and is not entirely understood by researchers as of yet.

Most people understand that the process of storing thoughts is what we refer to as memory. However, a much smaller number of people have any real understanding of how our brains take seemingly “simple” thoughts and turn them into memories.

To start our discussion, we will begin by saying that memory, unlike other attributes of the body, is not a defined part of the body. Instead, the word memory refers to the elaborate means of remembering.

A wide array of models have been used to describe the way that memory works in the human brain. However, current researchers are quickly finding that these simplistic notions regarding memory are nowhere near as sophisticated or elusive as the human memory. Today, scientists are finding that it is made up of a complex web of cells placed explicitly around the brain.

Short-Term Memory

Short-Term Memory Brain
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Most people have heard the term “short-term memory” at one point in their life or another. However, only a handful of people can give an accurate description of what short-term memory is.

To begin our discussion, we’ll note that short-term memory is also known as active or primary memory. As these names imply, short-term memory is something that we use in our present state of being. Furthermore, it is worth noting that short-term memory is limited in both duration and number of items held.

For most functioning brains, the short-term memory lasts between twenty and thirty seconds. Sometimes this time frame fluctuates in either direction depending upon the circumstances under which information is received. Typically the average human brain can hold between four and nine items in short-term memory.

Long-Term Memory

Long-Term Memory Brain
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In contrast to the fading short-term memories that we dispose of quickly, the long-term memory seems to be unlimited regarding the number of items stored. Additionally, long-term memories are typically stored for much more extended periods of time, usually many years. But how exactly does the human brain move items from short-term memory to long-term memory?

Most people are vaguely aware that there are a variety of techniques for committing specific information to memory. For example, people tend to “chunk” information into smaller parts of a larger whole to memorize it. Also, it is common to use rehearsal as a means of committing short-term memory to long-term storage.

Despite the knowledge of these memorization methods, the specific science behind “converting” short-term memories into long-term memories is not well understood. Several working theories try to explain the precise mechanisms of memory. Each potential philosophy is unique, and this particular subject is a matter of much scientific controversy.

Memory Loss and Difficulty

Memory Loss and Difficulty
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It’s no secret that just as our brains have an incredible capacity to process information and develop memories, they also can “lose” memories. Injury, trauma, and certain illnesses can all affect the way we remember things and even make it seem that certain memories are gone for good. But what exactly happens when we “lose” a memory?

Because the mechanisms regarding thoughts and the way we store memories are not very well understood, it is difficult to say what precisely happens when we forget something. In some cases, memory loss seems to be temporary while in others it looks more permanent. By examining the different causes of memory loss, we can gain some useful insights.

Retrograde vs. Anterograde Amnesia

Memory Health Tests for Everyone
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In movies that feature patients with amnesia, it’s often the case that these characters cannot remember their past. This type of amnesia is medically known as retrograde amnesia. Retrograde amnesia can be caused by disease or injury and deals explicitly with memories stored before illness or injury. The ability to learn new concepts is generally not affected.

In contrast, anterograde amnesia preserves old memories and prevents the development of new memories. Because of the mystery surrounding how the brain stores memories, anterograde amnesia is very difficult to understand. Additionally, this type of amnesia provides a wide array of questions regarding how memories are formed and stored.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Dementia and Alzheimer's disease
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The term dementia refers to a group of diseases that cause a slow decline in the ability to think and recall past knowledge. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common disorder associated with dementia and also the most common cause of it.

Despite Alzheimer’s disease causing the majority of dementia cases, there are several other causes of dementia. Some of these causes are reversible, suggesting a high degree of plasticity in the brain. However, there is no defined cure for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in general which highlights our general lack of understanding of the human mind.

Overall, the mechanism that dictates how the human brain creates memories and processes thoughts are complicated. Neuroscientists are continually researching new theories and challenging previous notions regarding the human mind.

As new technologies develop, scientists have high hopes of gaining a better understanding of the brain and all of its intricacies. However, until we can understand the subtle processes that create our ability to think and store information, it is unlikely that we will gain a better understanding of diseases that affect our ability to create and access our memories.

Biology, Babies and Serotonin

The Abnormal Biology of A Baby

Joseph was an unhappy baby. He didn’t sleep for long periods and appeared to cry all a time. He’d best if he had been held and rocked, or walked. He spit after feeding and was negatively compared to other babies in the family. His parents gently called him their “high care” child. He developed a few ear ailments that were treated with antibiotics. With the second antibiotic he obtained, he developed a rash. His doctor said he had been allergic to amoxicillin and put him on another antibiotic. He got over the ear infection, but continued to become whiny and had nausea.

After a different antibiotic he developed a white coat on his tongue which the doctor called thrush. As he grew, it became evident that he was intolerant to a foods. Milk gave him a stomach ache with pain and gave him a rash around his mouth area. He continued to be plagued with trouble falling asleep, tummy aches, frequent canker sores, and bed wetting as he grew older. He had more unusual fears than his sisters and brothers. When he started college his mother noticed his memory wasn’t as great as his sisters. He’d find something one day and have forgotten it the next.

Occasionally he looked like quite robotic.  Often times he seemed spacey while a lesson has been exhibited or when asked a question through the day. When a lesson or project became difficult for him, he became frustrated very easily over and would flare up or cry.  Josephs mother had been at her wits end trying to figure out how to help him. She’d tried rewarding, cajoling, punishing, and avoiding doing homework entirely. Nothing appeared to change his attitude towards studying or his capability to do it easily. He did enjoy the avoidance of college work, however, like we all do. As it turns out, Joseph was probably suffering from a deficiency of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin.

The Solution

Serotonin is the brain chemical that keeps us focused, instills a feeling of well being, and helps us fall asleep easily. How had he gotten this deficiency in serotonin?  Dr. Michael Gershon, a neurobiologist and physician Researcher at Columbia University in NY, discovered that 95% of serotonin is produced in our gut. Gershon has a book called The Second Brain wherein he describes this complex relationship between gut and brain functioning.

How was Josephs gut health endangered to a point where he could no longer make enough serotonin to keep him feeling good? We have both yeast and healthful bacteria in our intestines. When the mother takes an antibiotic when she’s pregnant or the kid takes an antibiotic, the yeast in the intestine begins to overgrow since the good bacteria in the gut is eliminated and the bad bacteria which was causing the ear or other infection is increased.

So as it turned out, if the measures to detect low serotonin were in place, Joseph could have avoided a lifetime of pain and confusion.  Over times, when it comes to Biology, if one chemical is out of wack, it can alter someones life to extremes.