American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A large, thick-walled, transparent cell that occurs at intervals along the filaments of certain cyanobacteria.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In botany, one of a class of abnormal cells found in algæ of the order Nostocaceæ. In the genus Nostoc, which may be taken as the type, the plants consist of rounded cells, loosely joined together in filaments, and usually embedded in a glutinous jelly. At irregular intervals in the filaments certain larger clear cells, the heterocysts, are produced. These heterocysts have differently colored watery cell-contents, and seem incapable of further development. They are probably connected in some way with reproduction, but their real nature is unknown. According to Farlow (“Marine Algæ of New England,” p. 180), the term has been wrongly applied to certain of the basal cells of some of the species of Melobesia, the organs not being homologous.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Bot.) A cell larger than the others, and of different appearance, occurring in certain algæ related to nostoc.
- hetero- + cyst (Wiktionary)
“To establish the first, Hoover showed samples from meteorites of forms that appeared to have cells and cell walls, that were in the process of splitting or otherwise reproducing, that were attached to the rock with what he identified as a primitive stalk called a basal heterocyst, and that had lived in what appeared to be colonies of microbes known to coexist on Earth.”
“The fact that the CS-505 and D9 genomes are small and streamlined compared to those of other filamentous cyanobacterial species and the lack of the ability for heterocyst formation in strain D9 allowed us to define a core set of genes responsible for each trait in filamentous species.”
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What happens when you put a (former) English major at a bioinformatics and bioengineering summer institute? A list of wacky bio-words, of course!
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