ACT Science : How to find synthesis of data in biology

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT Science

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Example Questions

Example Question #501 : Act Science

A botanist is trying to see the effects of temperature on a certain plant species. She prepares four identical plots of soil and runs a heating element through the soil so she can vary the temperature of each plot. After one month she harvests all of the plant biomass and records the temperature of each plot along with the biomass collected. The data are given in the table below.

Planttable1

Suppose the experimenter prepares four more plots, each with a constant soil temperature of , but each plot is equipped with misters to vary the humidity levels. Below are the data for the biomass yield for four different humidity levels. 

Humid

Based on the information above, which of the following is closest to the humidity level of Plots A, B, C and D?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Plot B was controlled to a temperature closest to . The yield for plot B was . The humidity closest to producing this yield was the humidity of plot G. The only choice that is comparable to  humidity is , which is therefore the bests answer. 

Example Question #502 : Act Science

A botanist is trying to see the effects of temperature on a certain plant species. She prepares four identical plots of soil and runs a heating element through the soil so she can vary the temperature of each plot. After one month she harvests all of the plant biomass and records the temperature of each plot along with the biomass collected. The data are given in the table below.Planttable1

After the experiment, the botanist noticed that the heating element was not calibrated properly and displayed a temperature 3 degrees lower than it actually was. The botanist repeats the experiment, this time with the correct heating element. In this repeated experiment, the heating element now displays 22 degrees Celsius for plot A. Which of the plots would you expect to have the highest yield in the repeated experiment?

Possible Answers:

A

There is no reason to expect higher yields in any one plot.

C

B

D

Correct answer:

B

Explanation:

Here, just because the instrumentation is improperly calibrated does not necessarily meant that we should expect a different outcome when we repeat the experiment. Only the readout on the heating element changed, not the temperature the plants were exposed to. So we expect plot B to have the highest yield.

Example Question #221 : How To Find Synthesis Of Data In Biology

Three different species of bacteria were grown in the laboratory. The experiment measured the effect of pH on the concentration of the three species of bacteria. The graphs below show the concentration of bacteria at different pH levels. Figure 2 shows the effect of pH on the concentration of a third bacterial strain, bacteria C.

Graph2

Oceans on Planet XYZ have been determined by scientists as being highly alkeline. Based on figures 1, 2 and 3 which species of bacteria would have the highest chance of surviving on this planet's oceans?

Possible Answers:

Bacteria C

Bacteria B

Bacteria A

Bacteria A and bacteria B

Unable to determine from the information given

Correct answer:

Bacteria B

Explanation:

Bacteria B had high concentrations at alkaline pH leading one to conclude that bacteria B would have the highest chance of surviving in an alkaline environment.

Example Question #504 : Act Science

The population of two different sparrow varieties were recorded from spring 1992 to fall 1996 and displayed below in the form of a graph.

Bar graphsparrow

During the period this experiment was taking place, the area where the sparrow populations were being recorded suffered from a forest fire. From studying the data presented in the graph, when would the forest fire have most likely occurred?

Possible Answers:

February 1995

August 1995

November 1996

October 1995

May 1994

Correct answer:

February 1995

Explanation:

From studying the graph, a significant drop in population for both spotted and striped sparrows occurred in the spring of 1995 leading to the conclusion that a forest fire would have occurred in late winter of 1994 or early spring of 1995.

Example Question #505 : Act Science

An undergraduate biology student working in a lab was reading about the latest health epidemic in the United States concerning obesity. He recently learned in his biology class that an enzyme called fatty acid synthase (FAS) catalyzes the formation of fatty acids. Accumulation of these fatty acids then creates the adipose fatty tissue that individuals typically see in their belly or side-regions. He hypothesizes that by decreasing the rate that this enzyme produces fatty acids by administering an inhibitor will aid in reducing the storage of fats, helping to alleviate obesity. After gaining approval from the university's clinical trials and ethics committee, he gathered a group of 20 test subjects. With the help of his research director, he measured the baseline rate of FAS activity for all test subjects and the averaged rate after oral administrators of a placebo and three types of inhibitors at a concentration of 0.6M to four equally-sized groups. The data is shown in Table 1.                      

Questionpicture2

Table 1.

The student then wonders if a mixture of different inhibitors were to increase the effect in the subject. He again measured the averaged baseline FAS level of the subjects and then attempted administering a placebo and three different combinations of inhibitors to subjects in a second trial. The results are shown in Table 2.

Questionpicture3

Table 2. 

A colleague of the researcher interpreted the results from Table 1 and 2 and suggested a third trial which would track the averaged weight change of the subjects over a 6-month period. The results are shown in Table 3.

Questionpicture4

Table 3.

According to the data tables presented, if the researcher instead gave the subjects an inhibitor of concentration 1.15 M, how would the FAS activity change?

Possible Answers:

The activity level of FAS would remain unchanged.

The activity level of FAS would increase then decrease.

The activity level of FAS would decrease.

There is not sufficient data to support a conclusion.

The activity level of FAS would increase.

Correct answer:

There is not sufficient data to support a conclusion.

Explanation:

Although it is possible that the FAS activity would increase with increasing amounts of inhibitor, the researcher never addresses nor tests for this variable in the experiment. Therefore, it is impossible to conclude solely from the data presented.

Example Question #506 : Act Science

An undergraduate biology student working in a lab was reading about the latest health epidemic in the United States concerning obesity. He recently learned in his biology class that an enzyme called fatty acid synthase (FAS) catalyzes the formation of fatty acids. Accumulation of these fatty acids then creates the adipose fatty tissue that individuals typically see in their belly or side-regions. He hypothesizes that by decreasing the rate that this enzyme produces fatty acids by administering an inhibitor will aid in reducing the storage of fats, helping to alleviate obesity. After gaining approval from the university's clinical trials and ethics committee, he gathered a group of 20 test subjects. With the help of his research director, he measured the baseline rate of FAS activity for all test subjects and the averaged rate after oral administrators of a placebo and three types of inhibitors at a concentration of 0.6M to four equally-sized groups. The data is shown in Table 1.                      

Questionpicture2

Table 1.

The student then wonders if a mixture of different inhibitors were to increase the effect in the subject. He again measured the averaged baseline FAS level of the subjects and then attempted administering a placebo and three different combinations of inhibitors to subjects in a second trial. The results are shown in Table 2.

Questionpicture3

Table 2. 

A colleague of the researcher interpreted the results from Table 1 and 2 and suggested a third trial which would track the averaged weight change of the subjects over a 6-month period. The results are shown in Table 3.

Questionpicture4

Table 3.

What is a plausible explanation for why the placebo group gained less in weight than the group not given any drug?

Possible Answers:

Knowing the patients who received the drug caused their FAS to decrease, this also caused the subjects to eat less as a result.

Some subjects of the placebo group improperly received one of the inhibitors rather than a placebo.

Procedural error caused the researchers to improperly measure the weight of the individuals.

The placebo was actually a well-studied weight loss pill.

A psychological effect caused the group taking the placebo to observe their eating habits more than the group not taking the drug.

Correct answer:

A psychological effect caused the group taking the placebo to observe their eating habits more than the group not taking the drug.

Explanation:

It is reasonable to conclude that the patients receiving the placebo had a psychological effect that caused them to watch what foods they intaked as opposed to patients not receiving any drugs. This is the primary point of the placebo group.

Example Question #507 : Act Science

An undergraduate biology student working in a lab was reading about the latest health epidemic in the United States concerning obesity. He recently learned in his biology class that an enzyme called fatty acid synthase (FAS) catalyzes the formation of fatty acids. Accumulation of these fatty acids then creates the adipose fatty tissue that individuals typically see in their belly or side-regions. He hypothesizes that by decreasing the rate that this enzyme produces fatty acids by administering an inhibitor will aid in reducing the storage of fats, helping to alleviate obesity. After gaining approval from the university's clinical trials and ethics committee, he gathered a group of 20 test subjects. With the help of his research director, he measured the baseline rate of FAS activity for all test subjects and the averaged rate after oral administrators of a placebo and three types of inhibitors at a concentration of 0.6M to four equally-sized groups. The data is shown in Table 1.                      

Questionpicture2

Table 1.

The student then wonders if a mixture of different inhibitors were to increase the effect in the subject. He again measured the averaged baseline FAS level of the subjects and then attempted administering a placebo and three different combinations of inhibitors to subjects in a second trial. The results are shown in Table 2.

Questionpicture3

Table 2. 

A colleague of the researcher interpreted the results from Table 1 and 2 and suggested a third trial which would track the averaged weight change of the subjects over a 6-month period. The results are shown in Table 3.

Questionpicture4

Table 3.

A novel inhibitor, Inhibitor C, was found to bind to and increase the rate of Enzyme Y that acted as a strict agonist to FAS. What would be predicted to occur if Inhibitor C was given to all of the patients in addition to the treatments they were receiving?

Possible Answers:

All of the FAS activity levels would rise.

No change would be predicted to occur.

It would be dependent on whether Enzyme C could bind to Enzyme Y.

It would be dependent on the size of the molecule.

Some of the FAS activity levels would rise in those inhibitors that were more effective when coupled with another inhibitor.

Correct answer:

All of the FAS activity levels would rise.

Explanation:

An agonist promotes an enzymatic reaction (as opposed to an antagonist which blocks it). The action of Enzyme C activating Enzyme Y, which then activates FAS, is predicted to increase the FAS levels.

Example Question #508 : Act Science

In the 1980’s, an epidemic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, swept through cattle herds in the United Kingdom. Scientists and veterinarians were troubled and had a difficult time managing the disease because it spread from one animal to another, and behaved differently than other diseases in the past. 

When infectious material from affected animals was treated with high levels of radiation, for example, the material remained infectious. All known bacteria or viruses that carry disease would have been killed by such a treatment. Additionally, some animals developed the disease without first being exposed to sick animals. Perhaps most frustratingly, among those animals that are exposed before becoming sick, it can take many years after exposure for illness to appear.

There quickly emerged two distinct explanations for the disease. 

Scientist 1:

Mad cow disease is unlike any disease we have handled before. It is increasingly clear that the best explanation for the disease’s dynamics involve proteins, called the protein-only hypothesis. These protein molecules are likely causative of the disease, and they lack any DNA or RNA. It is damage to these DNA or RNA molecules that kills bacteria or viruses when exposed to high levels of radiation. The most important observations that made scientists consider a unique, protein-only model for this disease involved its resistance to radiation. Remarkably, this would be the first example of an infectious agent copying itself without DNA or RNA to mediate the process.

Moreover, some animals develop the disease spontaneously, without physically being infected by another animal. This suggests that internal disorder among protein molecules is a potential route to developing disease, and may be accelerated by exposure to other sick animals.

In fact, this is consistent with the proposed mechanism. It is likely that proteins fold incorrectly, and then influence proteins around them to take on this errant conformation. Some proteins may fold incorrectly by chance, which explains spontaneous disease development. It also explains the long course of disease, as it takes many years for enough proteins to fold incorrectly and result in observable disease.

Scientist 2:

The suggestion that mad cow disease is caused exclusively by protein, in the absence of DNA or RNA, is such a dramatic departure from accepted biological processes that it warrants careful scrutiny. Additionally, other more conventional explanations should be thoroughly investigated before coming to such a conclusion.

Some scientists have shown that very small particles resembling viruses are visible in infectious material under powerful microscopes. Additionally, these viruses are consistent in size and shape with known, highly radiation-resistant viruses called polyomaviruses. It takes much higher-than-typical doses of radiation to cause enough DNA damage to inactivate these viruses.

The observation that mad cow disease occurs spontaneously in some animals is also explained by the viral explanation. Many viruses exist in animals and humans for years, undetected and not causing any observable disease. Sickness or stress can make these viruses reactivate, offering the illusion of spontaneous illness. All of these observations are consistent with the viral hypothesis.

Scientist 1 includes the information about the long duration between likely infection and the development of symptoms most specifically to:

Possible Answers:

support the protein-only hypothesis that was developed principally based on radiation resistance.

support the viral hypothesis that was developed principally based on radiation resistance.

provide the principal support for the protein-only hypothesis.

provide the principal support for the viral hypothesis.

Correct answer:

support the protein-only hypothesis that was developed principally based on radiation resistance.

Explanation:

The passage indicates that the major support for the protein-only hypothesis is derived from observations about the radiation resistance of infectious material. The additional information specified in the question is largely supportive.

Example Question #509 : Act Science

In the 1980’s, an epidemic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, swept through cattle herds in the United Kingdom. Scientists and veterinarians were troubled and had a difficult time managing the disease because it spread from one animal to another, and behaved differently than other diseases in the past. 

When infectious material from affected animals was treated with high levels of radiation, for example, the material remained infectious. All known bacteria or viruses that carry disease would have been killed by such a treatment. Additionally, some animals developed the disease without first being exposed to sick animals. Perhaps most frustratingly, among those animals that are exposed before becoming sick, it can take many years after exposure for illness to appear.

There quickly emerged two distinct explanations for the disease. 

Scientist 1:

Mad cow disease is unlike any disease we have handled before. It is increasingly clear that the best explanation for the disease’s dynamics involve proteins, called the protein-only hypothesis. These protein molecules are likely causative of the disease, and they lack any DNA or RNA. It is damage to these DNA or RNA molecules that kills bacteria or viruses when exposed to high levels of radiation. The most important observations that made scientists consider a unique, protein-only model for this disease involved its resistance to radiation. Remarkably, this would be the first example of an infectious agent copying itself without DNA or RNA to mediate the process.

Moreover, some animals develop the disease spontaneously, without physically being infected by another animal. This suggests that internal disorder among protein molecules is a potential route to developing disease, and may be accelerated by exposure to other sick animals.

In fact, this is consistent with the proposed mechanism. It is likely that proteins fold incorrectly, and then influence proteins around them to take on this errant conformation. Some proteins may fold incorrectly by chance, which explains spontaneous disease development. It also explains the long course of disease, as it takes many years for enough proteins to fold incorrectly and result in observable disease.

Scientist 2:

The suggestion that mad cow disease is caused exclusively by protein, in the absence of DNA or RNA, is such a dramatic departure from accepted biological processes that it warrants careful scrutiny. Additionally, other more conventional explanations should be thoroughly investigated before coming to such a conclusion.

Some scientists have shown that very small particles resembling viruses are visible in infectious material under powerful microscopes. Additionally, these viruses are consistent in size and shape with known, highly radiation-resistant viruses called polyomaviruses. It takes much higher-than-typical doses of radiation to cause enough DNA damage to inactivate these viruses.

The observation that mad cow disease occurs spontaneously in some animals is also explained by the viral explanation. Many viruses exist in animals and humans for years, undetected and not causing any observable disease. Sickness or stress can make these viruses reactivate, offering the illusion of spontaneous illness. All of these observations are consistent with the viral hypothesis.

Which of the following would most directly refute the protein-only hypothesis?

I. It is found that more animals than previously thought develop the disease spontaneously, without exposure to infected material

II. Another disease is found to be caused by a protein lacking any DNA or RNA

III. Treatment with an enzyme that breaks down DNA and RNA makes infectious material non-infectious

Possible Answers:

III only

I and II

II and III

I only

Correct answer:

III only

Explanation:

Options I and II both would support the protein-only hypothesis as discussed in the passage. Only choice III would refute the protein-only hypothesis, as the hypothetical enzyme is probably reducing infectivity by eliminating DNA or RNA.

Example Question #511 : Act Science

In the 1980’s, an epidemic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, swept through cattle herds in the United Kingdom. Scientists and veterinarians were troubled and had a difficult time managing the disease because it spread from one animal to another, and behaved differently than other diseases in the past. 

When infectious material from affected animals was treated with high levels of radiation, for example, the material remained infectious. All known bacteria or viruses that carry disease would have been killed by such a treatment. Additionally, some animals developed the disease without first being exposed to sick animals. Perhaps most frustratingly, among those animals that are exposed before becoming sick, it can take many years after exposure for illness to appear.

There quickly emerged two distinct explanations for the disease. 

Scientist 1:

Mad cow disease is unlike any disease we have handled before. It is increasingly clear that the best explanation for the disease’s dynamics involve proteins, called the protein-only hypothesis. These protein molecules are likely causative of the disease, and they lack any DNA or RNA. It is damage to these DNA or RNA molecules that kills bacteria or viruses when exposed to high levels of radiation. The most important observations that made scientists consider a unique, protein-only model for this disease involved its resistance to radiation. Remarkably, this would be the first example of an infectious agent copying itself without DNA or RNA to mediate the process.

Moreover, some animals develop the disease spontaneously, without physically being infected by another animal. This suggests that internal disorder among protein molecules is a potential route to developing disease, and may be accelerated by exposure to other sick animals.

In fact, this is consistent with the proposed mechanism. It is likely that proteins fold incorrectly, and then influence proteins around them to take on this errant conformation. Some proteins may fold incorrectly by chance, which explains spontaneous disease development. It also explains the long course of disease, as it takes many years for enough proteins to fold incorrectly and result in observable disease.

Scientist 2:

The suggestion that mad cow disease is caused exclusively by protein, in the absence of DNA or RNA, is such a dramatic departure from accepted biological processes that it warrants careful scrutiny. Additionally, other more conventional explanations should be thoroughly investigated before coming to such a conclusion.

Some scientists have shown that very small particles resembling viruses are visible in infectious material under powerful microscopes. Additionally, these viruses are consistent in size and shape with known, highly radiation-resistant viruses called polyomaviruses. It takes much higher-than-typical doses of radiation to cause enough DNA damage to inactivate these viruses.

The observation that mad cow disease occurs spontaneously in some animals is also explained by the viral explanation. Many viruses exist in animals and humans for years, undetected and not causing any observable disease. Sickness or stress can make these viruses reactivate, offering the illusion of spontaneous illness. All of these observations are consistent with the viral hypothesis.

Which of the following facts is an implicit assumption in the argument of Scientist 1?

Possible Answers:

DNA is more susceptible to radiation damage than RNA.

RNA is more susceptible to radiation damage than DNA.

Proteins are resistant to radiation-induced breakdown.

DNA and RNA are resistant to radiation-induced breakdown.

Correct answer:

Proteins are resistant to radiation-induced breakdown.

Explanation:

Scientist 1 never explicitly states as much, but her argument is based on the assumption that proteins are likely to remain infectious when exposed to high levels of radiation. Otherwise, the argument that proteins are themselves causing disease does not explain this observation directly, and offers no more value than the viral hypothesis.

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