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Challenge Questions

This page contains further questions on the subject of gene expression and are designed to stimulate more in-depth conversation and learning. These questions support students to think and write at the level of synthesis and understanding required for Merit and Excellence discussions and above.


1. Define the term early-life nutritional environment and discuss the potential that the environment has to impact on the health and well being of an individual. In your answer, consider the following areas:

  • Early puberty
  • Obesity
  • Adult NCDs (non-communicable diseases)


2. Define oxidative stress and discuss how nutrition can contribute to minimising oxidative stress. You will need to look at other resources for this. A good place to start is Science in School: Looking for Antioxidant Food.


3. It is well known that diet and lifestyle impact on health. Scientists have shown that the environment during adulthood impacts on the likelihood of disease. They have also shown that the environment we are exposed to in the womb can alter our metabolic pathways and increase our likelihood of suffering from a number of adult diseases. Scientists are currently exploring why this happens and predict that it may be a result of epigenetic modifications in the relevant genes. Using the information presented in the learning resources on these web pages and your knowledge of gene expression, explain what is meant by epigenetic modification and why these modifications could potentially alter the phenotype that is expressed.