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Preliminary Biology: Topic Summary

Patterns in Nature
Matt Elrick

1. Organisms are made of cells that have similar structural characteristics

1.1 Outline the historical development of the cell theory, in particular, the contributions of
Robert Hooke and Robert Brown.
Before the invention of lenses and microscopes it was believed that living matter could come from
non-living matter, such as maggots coming from dead things.
Malpighi (1628-1694) first to use lenses to magnify things
Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) constructed microscope better than others at the time; discovered
microbes in rainwater; discovered yeast cells, bacteria and protozoa.
Hooke (1635-1703) designed a compound microscope (more than one lens) to observe cells in
cork. Was first person to use word cell.
Brown (1773 1858) recognised nucleus as regular feature in all plant cells and named it.
Flemming, in 1880, described cell division (mitosis) from his observations on living and stained cells.

Statements of cell theory then followed:


A cell is a separate mass of living material bounded by a membrane

Cells are the basic units of life and organisms are made up of cells
Cells have similar structural characteristics but also show diversity of form and function

The Cell theory states:


All organisms consist of cells

All cells arise from pre-existing cells
The cell is the unit of structure, function, differentiation and reproduction

1.2 Describe evidence to support the cell theory

Evidence to support cell theory comes from direct observations using the microscope.

Robert Hookes observations of cork cells proved that all living matter is comprised of small
units called cells.
Walther Flemmings experiment on cell division (mitosis) confirmed that all cells come from
pre-existing cells.
Anton van Leeuwenhoeks observation of unicellular organisms from a drop of stagnant
rainwater showed that cells are the smallest units of life that make up even the tiniest

1.3 Discuss the significance of technological advances to developments in the cell theory
The development of the cell theory went hand in hand with the technological advances in the
manufacture of lenses and magnifying devices.
Light Microscope: the development of light microscopy has allowed living cells and organelles to be
observed. Can be viewed up to x400 or to x1000 with oil immersion lens. Therefore, only the larger
cell structures were able to be viewed.
In order to view certain structures more easily, a dye is used to stain the cells.
Electron Microscope: uses a beam of electrons rather than light to magnify x25 000 (scanning
electron microscope) or even x1 000 000 (transmitted electron microscope). The beam of electrons
has enabled scientists to view much smaller parts of a cell.
The limitation with an electron microscope is that the specimens are preserved (dead), therefore cell
function cannot be observed. The specimens are dead because the electrons must be kept in a
vacuum to prevent scattering.

Viewing energy source

Colour transmission
Live specimen viewing
Specimen mounting
Resolving power


Light microscope
By glass lenses
Glass slide in air
Up to 2000 times
0.2 micrometres
Samples prepare
quickly, living samples
can be viewed
Limited visible detail

Electron microscope
An electron beam
By magnetic lenses
Metal background in a vacuum chamber
Up to 1 000 000 times
0.0002 micrometres
High magnification and resolution allow
particles as small as molecules to be viewed.
Expensive and specimens take a while to be
Only non-living specimens can be viewed

1.4 Identify cell organelles seen with the current light and electron microscopes
Light Microscope:

Cell Wall
Cell Membrane

Electron Microscope:

Golgi Body
Endoplasmic Reticulum

1.5 Describe the relationship between the structure of cell organelles and their function



Golgi body

Oval shape; Double membrane
with inner layer folded to provide
larger SA - more reactions can
Surrounded by double nuclear
Small round body composed of
RNA and protein
Folded membranes in cytoplasm allow chemical reactions to take
Small black dots within cell. Often
attached to ER. Found in
cytoplasm, mitochondria and
Specialized areas of endoplasmic
Provides border for cell


Contains dense sets of

membranes look like stacked


Small membrane bound sacs

Cell wall

Made of cellulose
Membrane bound cavity

Site of aerobic respiration produces ATP

Plant / Animal

Controls cell activities;

contains DNA
Manufacture of proteins;
active part of DNA
Connects cell membrane with
nuclear membrane, involved in
the transport of material
Produces protein


Packages proteins in its

vesicles (sacs) before secretion
Protects and supports
organelles; allows for selective
Site of photosynthesis;
contains chlorophyll and
enzymes. The stacked
membranes trap light energy.
Contains special enzymes that
attack and destroy (dissolve)
foreign protein entering cell.
Protects and supports the cell
Stores food, water and waste








2. Membranes around cells provide separation from and links with the external environment

2.1 Identify the major groups of substances found in living cells and their uses in cell activities
Organic (molecules always contain Carbon atoms)

Contain Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen

General formula is (CH2O)n where n can be any number
Basic unit is Glucose, which is used as energy in respiration
Any excess carbs are stored under skin and around organs as fat
Plant cells walls are made of cellulose, a complex carbohydrate

There are 3 groups of Carbohydrates:

- Monosaccharides: consists of single sugar unit; glucose, fructose, ribose
- Disaccharides: consists of double sugar unit; includes sucrose (glucose + fructose);
lactose (glucose + galactose). When two organic molecules combine, a water molecule is
produced, this is condensation.
- Polysaccharides: consists of multiple sugar units formed to make huge molecules;
includes starch (2000 3000 condensed glucose molecules); cellulose (more than 2000
condensed glucose molecules)

Contain Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen (note - ratio of H:0 is never 2:1)
Includes fats, oils, waxes and steroids
Fats contain twice energy of carbs


Contain Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen and Nitrogen

Are large molecules made of smaller molecules (amino acids) joined together
Most abundant organic molecules in cells needed for growth and repair
Very important to cell structure and function

Nucleic Acids

Contain linked sugar molecules, nitrogen bases and phosphate groups

The base-sugar-phosphate unit is called a Nucleotide
Two types: DNA and RNA
RNA (ribonucleic acid), found throughout cell, needed for protein manufacture, contains
sugar ribose
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), found in chromosomes, contains sugar deoxyribose (ribose
with some oxygen missing)

INORGANIC (molecules dont usually contain Carbon atoms)


Transport chemicals
Solvent for chemicals
Involved in reactions (photosynthesis)
Medium for reactions to take place
Regulates temp by changing from liquid to gas using heat

Mineral Salts

Chlorides, Nitrates, Phosphates, Carbonates etc.

Help enzymes function in chemical reactions
Used in structure of macromolecules (calcium in bone, iron in blood)


Carbon dioxide and Oxygen

Used in photosynthesis and respiration
CO2 can dissolve in water to form a buffer to limit changes in pH

2.2 Identify that there is movement of molecules into and out of cells
All cells have a cell membrane surrounding it; this membrane is selectively permeable. Nutrients can
be taken in by cells and waste products removed. The cell membrane can block out any unwanted
foreign substance and only take in what is needed.
2.3 Describe the current model of membrane structure and explain how it accounts for the
movement of some substances into and out of cells.
The current model of membrane structure shows us that cell membranes are semi-permeable. The
current model states that cell membranes are made up of double layers of phospholipids, proteins
are positioned in a complex pattern within these layers. The proteins control the transport of
substances into and out of the cell.
The Fluid Mosaic Membrane model:
Hydrophobic tails on inside
(water hating)
Phospholipid bilayer


Hydrophilic heads facing out

(water loving)

2.4 Compare the processes of diffusion and osmosis

Diffusion: A diffusion gradient exists when two areas have a different concentration of a substance,
the substance will move until both concentrations are equal, no energy is needed and is therefore
known as passive transport
Osmosis: The diffusion of water across a semi-permeable membrane.
Both involve movement of substances from
regions of high to low concentrations.
Both travel down a gradient (more per unit
volume to less per unit volume of a substance)

Diffusion is movement of any substance,
Osmosis is water only.
Osmosis refers to movement across a
membrane, whereas diffusion doesnt
necessarily need a membrane

Both dont require energy

2.5 Explain how the surface area to volume ratio affects the rate of movement of substances into
and out of cells
The volume of a cell determines its metabolic needs and waste products. The function of a cell
surface is to control the rate of removal of wastes and absorption of nutrients.
As cell size increases, the surface area to volume ratio decreases.
The decrease in SA:V will limit the efficiency that substances can move in and out. Substances need
to move in and out at rate which will maintain efficient cellular metabolism to allow life processes to
continue. Cells cannot grow too big because substances need to move in and out efficiently.

3. Plants and animals have specialised structures to obtain nutrients from their environment.
3.1 Identify some examples that demonstrate the structural and functional relationships
between cells, tissues, organs and organ systems in multicellular organisms.
Cells in multicellular organisms are specialised to do different jobs, therefore, they show variety of
patterns of shape, size and organisation. What a cell looks like is related to what it does.
Cell: Basic unit of life; Specialised to carry out particular tasks
Tissue: Group of cells with similar structure and function (eg. Skin, muscle, nerve)
Organ: Group of tissue joined together to make a structure with a special function (eg. Stomach,
lungs, leaf, roots)
Organ System: groups of organs whose functions are closely related (eg. Digestive, reproduction,

3.2 Distinguish between autotrophs and heterotrophs in terms of nutrient requirements

Autotrophs can make organic materials from water, carbon dioxide and inorganic materials using
the energy from sunlight (through photosynthesis). Plants are autotrophs.
Heterotrophs depend on autotrophs to obtain their nutrients. All animals, fungi and most bacteria
are heterotrophic because they cannot photosynthesise.
3.3 Identify the materials required photosynthesis and its role in ecosystems
For photosynthesis to occur, plants obtain light energy from the sun using chlorophyll and use it to
convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose (sugar) and oxygen.
Photosynthesis is the process by which plant cells capture energy from sunlight and convert it into
chemical energy. All living things ultimately depend on this process. The compounds plants produce
provide nutrients and energy to animals which consume them.
3.4 Identify the general word equation for photosynthesis and outline this as a summary of a
chain of biochemical reactions

Carbon dioxide + water

Sugars (glucose) + Oxygen


6CO2 + 12H2O -> C6H12O6 + 6O2 + 6H2O

Photosynthesis is a series of many chemical reactions which happen in different parts of the
The process of photosynthesis can be thought of as occurring in two sets of reactions or two stages,
although it is actually continuous; the products of the first stage become the raw materials of the
second stage.

3.5 Explain the relationship between the organisation of the structures used to obtain water
and minerals in a range of plants and the need to increase the surface area available for
All cells contain water. The ions dissolved in water are needed by organisms for growth and to
manufacture various body substances. Water uptake must balance water loss in order to survive.
Water: roots and root hairs absorb water from soil by osmosis, roots have large surface area. Roots
have thousands of root hairs, this increases the surface area. The large surface area increases the
rate of water uptake and helps penetrate more soil.
Minerals: occur as ions dissolved in water in soil. If ions are small enough they are taken up by roots
and root hairs. If there is a higher concentration of ions in soil, they will move into roots by diffusion.
If concentration is low, a plant may need to expend energy to actively absorb ions against the
concentration gradient.

3.6 Explain the relationship between the shape of leaves, the distribution of tissues in them and
their role
The shape of the lead and distribution of tissues in directly related to the environment in which it
lives. The shape of leaves is usually broad and thin, this allows maximum surface area for absorbing
light and carbon dioxide. It is thin enough that light penetrates to reach every layer of cells for
maximum photosynthesis. Leaves which are spikes reduce water loss. Fleshy leaves store more

Waxy layer, transparent
Flattened, transport




Close-packed elongated,
many chloroplasts
Loose-packing, few
Narrow tube-like cells (dead)
Narrow tube-like cells (living)

Reduces water loss; allows light through; keeps shape
Layer protects cells; transparent to let light through to
cells underneath
Pores on leaves that permit exchange of gases; H2O
evaporates from leaf transpiration; CO2 diffuses into
leaf for photosynthesis; O2 diffuses out of leaf
Cells that photosynthesise; tightly packed under
epidermis; maximum light; contains many chloroplasts
Large spaces between them for gas exchange
Transports water and inorganic material from roots to
Transports food from leaves to rest of plant

3.7 Describe the role of teeth in increasing the surface area of complex foods for exposure to
digestive chemicals
Digestion begins in the mouth where the teeth break the complex foods into smaller pieces. This
increases the surface area of the food for exposure to digestive enzymes which can attack it and
digest it much faster.
3.8 Explain the relationship between the length and overall complexity of digestive systems of a
vertebrate herbivore and a vertebrate carnivore with respect to:
the chemical composition of their diet
the functions of the structures involved
The length of a digestion is related to the type of food eaten by the animal.
Herbivores diets consist of a large amount of cellulose, no digestive enzymes can digest cellulose,
instead microorganisms in the colon (large intestine) convert cellulose into sugars, which is a very
slow and inefficient process. The long length of the colon provides a large surface area for the action
of microbes on the cellulose. Herbivores have complex stomachs
In carnivores, the digestion process is very fast and efficient. Meat has a much higher energy content
per gram than plant foods, so carnivores can eat less to gain the same amount of energy. Carnivores
digestive systems produce all the enzymes necessary to digest their food, as a result digestion is
rapid and simple.

4. Gaseous exchange and transport systems transfer chemicals through the internal and

between the external environments of plants and animals

4.1 Compare the roles of respiratory, circulatory and excretory systems
Respiratory: allows for gaseous exchange to occur
Circulatory: circulates minerals and supplies cells with nutrients; transport of gases, nutrients, waste
products; removal of toxins and pathogens; distribution of heat.
Excretory: allows for excretion of waste products

4.2 Identify and compare the gaseous exchange surfaces in an insect, a fish, a frog and a
Mammal: Lungs (internal) - large SA is increased by highly folded microstructures called alveoli, surrounded
by blood capillaries. There is a rich supply of blood to transport gases to and from the lungs.
Fish: Gills (external) - gill filaments spread out to increase SA, the rich supply of blood vessels enable gases to
and from the gills as water flows over them.
Insect: Tracheae - a system of branching tubes; branches throughout the tissues of the insects bringing air
directly to the cells; movement of body forces air in and out; efficient only in a small animal due to SA:V ratio.
Frog: Lungs/Skin oxygen from the air diffuses into the moist skin which is transported by the blood to the
body. The lungs are simpler structures with internal subdivisions.

4.3 Explain the relationship between the requirements of cells and the need for transport
systems in multicellular organisms
Unicellular organisms have a large SA:V ratio and therefore do not need a transport system to obtain
nutrients and rid wastes.
Multicellular organisms however, have a small SA:V ratio and cannot carry out simple exchange of
nutrients and waste, cells in the organisms would then starve or be poisoned by their own waste. So,
these organisms need a series of tubes through which materials can be transported.

4.4 Outline the transport system in plants, including:

root hair cells
stomates and lenticels
Plant part
Root hair cell

Consists of extension of
epidermal cell to increase SA.


Long vessel with no end wall,

walls strengthened with lignin,
pits allow water to pass
Consists of sieve tubes with
sieve plate at end of tubes.




Found in epidermis. Each pore

has guard cell on either side,
guard cells have chloroplasts.
Breaks in bark

Provides large SA for
absorption of water and
mineral ions.
Transports water from roots to
leaves, doesnt require energy.

Products of Photosynthesis are

transported from the leaves to the
rest of the plant.

Allow gaseous exchange to

occur. Can close to reduce
water loss by plant.
Allows gas exchange in stem for
living cells behind tough bark.

4.5 Compare open and closed circulatory systems using one vertebrate and one invertebrate as
Circulatory System


Consists of a muscular pump


that pumps fluid through a

closed system of tubes which
carry material throughout the
Highly efficient blood can
be kept flowing within
vessels, guaranteeing steady
flow of nutrients, gases and
wastes btw cells and
Allows vertebrates to grow
very large and still function
despite poor SA:V ratio of
large body

Blood does not always stay in

Body cells bathe in fluid
carrying nutrients
Not efficient; blood is not
forced to keep flowing

Humans have a heart that
pumps blood through blood
vessels which carry the blood
throughout the body.

Insects rely on their tracheal

system, instead of blood
carrying the oxygen. Thus
insects do not have to have a
fast blood flow.

5. Maintenance of organisms requires growth and repair

5.1 Identify mitosis as a process of nuclear division and explain its role
Mitosis is a process of nuclear division. It is a replication and division of a cell to produce two cells
with same number of chromosomes as parent cell. Two new cells are called daughter cells, these are
genetically identical.
The role of mitosis is to make new cells when they are needed (growth, repair and reproduction). It
involves duplication of both the nucleus and nuclear material.

Stages of Mitosis:

5.2 Identify the sites of mitosis in plants, insects and mammals

Plants: mitosis occurs in tips of roots and stems; plants can replace lost parts.
Insects: mitosis occurs in each stage of metamorphosis
Mammals: mammals cannot replace lost parts; mitosis is limited to tissue repair and maintenance
(eg. Replacement of skin cells and blood cells)
5.3 Explain the need for cytokinesis in cell division
Cytokinesis is a term which means division of cytoplasm which occurs during cell division. This is
needed in cell division because the cell cytoplasm must divide to produce two new cells and keep
the cell size (and large SA:V ratio)
5.4 Identify that nuclei, mitochondria and chloroplasts contain DNA
Chromosomes are strands of DNA found in the nucleus of cells. In humans, there are 46 chromosomes or 23
DNA on chromosomes are used to transfer information from cell to cell, thus mitochondria and chloroplast
also carry DNA. Mitochondria and chloroplasts are able to reproduce themselves in mini cell division.