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Chapter 1: An Introduction to Biology

Biology is the study of life.
Principles of Biology and the Levels of Biological Organization
o Cells are the simplest unit of life.
Cell Theory
1. All organisms are composed of cells.
2. Cells are the smallest unit of life.
3. New cells come from pre-existing cells via cell division.
o Living organisms use energy.
o Living organisms interact with their environment.
All organisms must respond to environmental changes.
o Living organisms maintain homeostasis (relatively stable internal conditions).
o Living organisms grow and develop. Growth produces more or larger cells and development produces
defined characteristics.
o The genetic material provides a blue print for reproduction. To sustain life over many generations,
organisms must reproduce.
DNA: blue print for organization, development, and function.
Genes: Segments of DNA that govern characteristics.
o Populations of organisms evolve from one generation to the next.
Evolution: heritable change in a population of organisms from generation to generation.
o All species (past and present) are related by an evolutionary history.
Evolution is an ongoing process. All organisms on earth share a common ancestor.
Genome: complete genetic composition of an organism/species.
Because most genes encode proteins, these genetic changes are often associated with changes in
the proteome, which is the complete protein composition of a cell/organism.
o Structure determines function.
Pertains to very tiny biological molecules and very large biological structures.
o New properties of life emerge from complex interactions.
Emergent properties: when individual components in an organism interact with each other or with
the external environment to create novel structures and functions.
o Biology is an experimental science.
o Biology affects our society.
The Levels of Biological Organization
o Atoms: smallest unit of an element that has the chemical properties of an element. All matter is composed
of atoms.
o Molecules and Macromolecules: atoms bond with each other to form molecules.
o Cells: surrounded by a membrane and contains a variety of molecules. A cell is the simplest unit of life.
o Tissues: in the case of multicellular organisms, many cells of the same type associate with each other to
form tissues.
o Organs: in complex multicellular organisms, an organ is composed of two or more types of tissue.
o Organism: all living things are organisms. Biologists classify organisms as belonging to a particular
species (a related group of organisms that share a distinctive form and set of attributes in nature; closely
related genetically).
o Population: a group of organisms of the same species that occupy the same environment.
o Community: assemblage of populations of different species.
o Ecosystem: interactions of a community of organisms with their physical environment.
o Biosphere: all places of the earth where living organisms exist.
Life on earth is united by an evolutionary past in which modern organisms have evolved from populations of pre-
existing organisms.
Diverse forms of life have evolved in ways that help them in the different environments the earth has to offer.
Over long periods of time, populations may change so that structures with a particular function become modified
to a serve a new function.
Evolutionary change occurs by two mechanisms:

1. Vertical Descent with Mutation: new species evolve from pre-existing ones by the accumulation of
mutations, which are heritable changes in the genetic material of an organism.
2. Horizontal Gene Transfer: transfer of genetic material from one organism to another organism that is
not its offspring. In some cases, horizontal gene transfer can occur between members of different
Taxonomy: grouping of species; emphasizes unity and diversity. The smaller and smaller the groups, the more
closely related together evolutionarily.
o Domain
o Super group
o Kingdom
o Phylum
o Class
o Order
o Family
o Genus
o Species
3 Domains of Life:
1. Bacteria (Prokaryotic): mostly unicellular prokaryotes that inhabit many diverse environments on
2. Archaea (Prokaryotic): unicellular prokaryotes that often live in extreme environments.
3. Eukarya (Eukaryotic): unicellular and multicellular organisms having cells and internal compartments
that serve various functions. These organisms have a cell nucleus, which contains genetic material.
a. Protists
b. Fungi
c. Plants
d. Animals
Binomial Nomenclature: scientific names of species. First Part = Genus, Second Part = Species
The unifying concept in biology is evolution. We can understand the unity of modern organisms by realizing that
all living species evolved from an interrelated group of ancestors.
o Stores information in a stable form.
o Provides continuity from generation to generation.
o Acts as an instrument of evolutionary change.
Genomics: analyzation of DNA sequences in genomes.
Genes Encode Polypeptides Proteins (responsible for structure and function of cell/organism.
Science: the observation, identification, experimental investigation, theoretical explanation or natural phenomena.
Hypothesis: proposed explanation for a natural phenomenon (based on previous observations and experimental
studies. Can never be proven to be true.
Predictions: expected outcomes. Must be testable and falsifiable.
Theory: a broad explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is substantiated by a large body of evidence
(can never be proven to be true).
Discovery-based science: the collection and analysis of data without the need for a preconceived hypothesis.
Hypothesis testing: (scientific method) formulate and test validity of hypothesis.
The 4 Stages of Life of a Gypsy Moth
1. Egg/embryo
2. Larva
3. Pupa
4. Adult