Biologists have become wary of claiming that any cellular system is now understood but for the odd t left uncrossed, or i undotted, at least since the discovery of introns in the late 1970s opened up a new world of questions undreamed-of in the philosophy of the time.
So Sean Munro opens his contribution to the BMC Biology 10th anniversary collection ‘Open questions in biology’ by declaring firmly that there is no danger that cell biologists will become bored for the duration of the century. He does risk predicting some of the questions that may be answered in that time frame, though we note that as we are still quite close to the beginning of the 21st century, and Sean is already well into adulthood, he is unlikely to be around to be proved wrong. (Unless, of course, current research on aging…)
Remarking (benignly) on a few cell biological mysteries whose resolution seems irreversibly obstructed by the intransigently polarized views of those working on them, and (wistfully?) on the likelihood that we shall never have the resources to explore fully the extraordinary diversity of (non-tax-paying) life forms, he settles for five questions that might fruitfully be tackled in the next 87 years.
I’m not going to tell you what they are, because if I did this blog would be almost as long as Sean’s short Comment, and I couldn’t possibly put the questions better than he does. But I will say that diversity is a keynote, and two of his questions are ones that are widely ignored. This title of this blog contains a clue to one of them. His title is ‘What is there left for cell biologists to do?’ If you want to know his answers, read the piece.