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Glossary

An alphabetical glossary of technical terms used on the site.

Cadaver

A dead human body.

Calories

A measure of the energy in food.

Cambium

A layer of cells within the stem and root of plants. For grafting, the cambia of the 2 plants being joined must be aligned.

Cancer

A disease caused by the uncontrolled division and growth of cells.

Capillary action

The natural upward movement of water in confined areas, such as the spaces between soil particles.

Capture-release

Where individuals (generally of scarce or endangered species) are captured, and removed to another, more amenable environment and released.

Carbohydrate

A chemical compound made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, which forms the main source of energy in our diet. Examples include sugar, starch and cellulose.

Carbon fibre

A material consisting of thin strong crystalline filaments of carbon often used as a strengthening material in composites.

Carcinogen

Capable of causing cancer.

Carotenoid

Plant pigments that produce a yellow colour.

Cartilage

Fibrous, dense connective tissue that acts as a cushion between bone joints.

Catalyse

To speed up the rate of a chemical reaction.

Catalyst

A substance that can speed up the rate of a chemical reaction, often an enzyme.

Cell

The basic unit of any living organism.

Cellulose

A long carbohydrate molecule that strengthens the cell wall of plants.

Centres of Research Excellence

National research centres funded by the New Zealand government.

Centrifugation

A process of separating high and low density components of a mixture by rotating at high speed.

Centrifuge

(Noun) A machine that rotates at high speed that is used to separate materials of different densities.
(Verb) To rotate at high speed.

Chemical genetics

Drug discovery that starts with chemistry. Libraries of chemical compounds are screened to see if they interact with disease-associated genes.

Chemotherapeutic

A substance that is used to treat cancer.

Chemotherapy

The use of drugs to treat cancer.

Chromatin

A mixture of DNA and proteins that makes up a chromosome.

Chromatography

A chemical technique used to separate different molecules in a mixture.

Chromosomal aneuploidy

When an organism has more or less chromosomes than normal.

Chromosome

A structure made up of DNA and proteins that contains genes which are passed from parents to their offspring.

Chronic

Lasting over a long period of time, or slow to heal, often refers to disease or injury.

Cisgenics

The genetic modification of an organism using genes from the same species.

Clinical trial

A carefully planned study that evaluates the benefits and risks of treatments and screening tests on humans. Also called research studies or medical research, clinical trials help establish the safety and effectiveness of new drugs or treatments.

Clone

(Noun) A genetically identical copy of a living organism.
(Verb) To make a genetically identical copy of a living organism, cell or sequence of DNA or to introduce a sequence of DNA into a vector.

Coagulate

Change to a solid or semi-solid state.

Codominant

The expression of both alleles in the case of a heterozygous genotype.

Codon

The coding unit of messenger RNA (mRNA), made up of three adjacent nucleotides.

Coliforms

Bacteria found in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded mammals and used as indicators of faecal contamination in water.

Colon

The large intestine.

Colostrum

A fluid that is rich in antibodies. It is a baby’s first food and is secreted from the breasts before milk is produced.

Commercialisation

To take an idea and turn it into a business in order to make money from it.

Complementary base pairing

The joining of specific nucleotides, for example, in a DNA double helix, the base adenine (A) only pairs with thymine (T) and cytosine (C) only pairs with guanine (G).

Complementary DNA (cDNA)

A double-stranded DNA molecule made in the laboratory from a single-stranded RNA template.

Compostable

Able to be broken down by microbes into a soil-like product that can support plant growth.

Compression therapy

A way of applying pressure to a limb to improve blood flow, for example using compression stockings.

Confocal microscopy

A type of microscopy where light from a very thin section or plane is seen, whilst interfering light from other sections is removed.

Congenital disorder of glycosylation

A group of disorders that can cause seizures and late development in children and, in severe cases, death before adulthood.

Conjugation

A temporary joining of two bacteria to transfer genetic material.

Constipation

Where a person has fewer bowel movements than usual.

Consumer research

Research into the likes and dislikes of people buying a particular product.

Contaminant

A substance that pollutes or infects something.

Contaminate

When a substance is polluted or infected with something, such as a chemical or microorganism.

Contamination

The introduction of contaminants into a substance.

Credibility

Something that can be believed and trusted.

Crohn’s disease

A chronic inflammatory disease of the digestive tract, particularly the small intestine and colon.

Crown research institutes

A group of science research businesses owned by the New Zealand government.

Cryopreservation

The cooling of cells, tissues or whole organisms to sub-zero temperatures in order to stop all biological activity. If done in the right way, biological activity can be resumed when the samples are warmed.

Cull

Select for killing, often because of poor quality or surplus numbers.

Cultivar

A variety of plant that has been created or selected intentionally and maintained through cultivation.

Culture

A group of living cells growing in a controlled, artificial environment like a laboratory.

Cuvette

A small, transparent, often tubular laboratory vessel.

Cyanobacteria

A type of bacteria that produce carbohydrates and oxygen through photosynthesis, previously known as blue-green algae.

Cystic fibrosis

An inherited disease which affect the lungs and pancreas impairing breathing and digestion.

Cytoskeleton

The network of proteins that form the internal scaffolding in a cell.

Cytotoxin

A toxin, or poison, that has a negative effect on living cells.

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