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An Introduction to Biology

Characteristics of Life (7)

1. Cells & organization
2. Energy use & metabolism
3. Irritability
4. Homeostasis
5. Growth & development
6. Reproduction
7. Biological evolution

Mechanisms of Evolutionary Change (2)

1. Vertical descent with modification
2. Horizontal gene transfer


Grouping of species based on common ancestry

3 Domains

1. Bacteria
2. Archaebacteria
3. Eukarya


Domain of unicellular prokaryotes that have cell walls.


Domain of unicellular prokaryotes that have cell walls.


Domain of all organisms whose cells have nuclei, including protists, plants, fungi, and animals

Eukarya Kingdoms (4)

1. Protists
2. Fungi
3. Plantae
4. Animalia


Capacity to cause change


Domain of all anucleated organisms with cell walls, including archaea and bacteria.


Change in characteristics of cells and / or certain genes/signaling


A segment of DNA that is involved in producing a protein.

We have 25,000 functional genes and over 3 billion nucleotides.


The process whereby the DNA sequence in a gene is copied into mRNA.


The process whereby genetic information coded in messenger RNA directs the formation of a specific protein at a ribosome in the cytoplasm.


The complete genetic makeup of an organism, carries information to make its proteome


The complete complement of proteins that a cell or organism can make


The basic structural and functional unit of all organisms.

Energy Use

To maintain their internal order, ________ is needed by organisms.


An organism's ability to respond to environmental stimuli. E.g., kingdom animalia has high ___________.

Cell Theory

All living organisms are composed of cells. They may be unicellular or multicellular. The cell is the basic unit of life. Cells arise from pre-existing cells.


Anything that has mass and occupies space.


The smallest unit of an element that retains the properties of the element that cannot be broken down naturally

Properties of Life

Organization of Life
Continuity of Life

Organization of Life

growth & development is possible through the organization of life

Continuity of Life

heredity is possible through the continuity of life (DNA)


Many types of environments with diverse organisms=speciation


Common traits rooted in biological evolution.

Homologous Organs

Organs or body parts that are similar in structure and origin but have different uses in different animals

Analogous Organs

Same function different structure

Vertical Descent with Modification

Progression of changes in a lineage; new species evolve from pre-existing species by the accumulation of mutations that are selected for by natural selection.

Horizontal Gene Transfer

The transfer of genes between cells of the same generation. E.g., penicillin resistant bacteria confers it's immunity to other bacteria.

Human Taxon

eukarya, animalia, chordata-vertebrata, mammalia, primates, haminidae, homo, sapiens


The observation, identification, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of natural phenomena.


Broad explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is substantiated by a large body of evidence. Allows us to make many predictions. Also can never be proved true

Deductive Reasoning

General principles are used to predict specific results. E.g., the pecies of an organism can be deduced from its characteristics

Inductive Reasoning

Specific observations are used to construct general scientific principles.

Scientific Method

A series of steps followed to solve problems
1. Collect data
2. Form a hypothesis
3. Test the hypothesis
4. Analyze data
5. State conclusions

Cystic Fibrosis

Affects about 1 in every 3,500 Americans.
Characterized by thick mucus in the lungs.
Homozygous allele (need 2 bad copies)
Missing amino acid (1 in 1700) prevents ATP from properly binding to protein to pump Cl- ions out of the cell.
Dorothy Anderson found it to be a genetic disorder; Tsui, Collins, & Riordan identified CF gene.


All the parts of the planet that are inhabited by living things; sum of all Earth's ecosystems.


A biological community of organisms and their abiotic environment (temperature, sunlight, pH, etc.).


All of the populations (of separate species) living in the same geographical area but NOT producing.

Ex. Wake Tech community consists of student population, cardinal population, crow population, etc.


A group of organisms of the same species populating and REPRODUCING in a given area.

Organism (Species)

Each individual is a group of organ systems cooperating together for a common purpose.

Organ System

Organs cooperating together for a common purpose.


Tissues cooperating together for a common purpose.


Cells cooperating together for a common purpose.


A _____ is the lowest level of biological organization to have characteristics of life.


Subpart of a cell that performs a particular function - e.g., mitochondrion.


Monomer's bonded together


2 or more atoms bonded together (actual monomers are many more than 2)


Smallest unit of each element that retains that element's characteristics.

Subatomic Particles

Protons, neutrons and electrons.


A large, naturally occurring community of flora and fauna in a major habitat. E.g., Raleigh is an eastern temperate deciduous forest.

Divergent Evolution

We are united by an evolutionary past. All stem from a limited # of single-celled organisms - life began on earth as primitive cells 3.5-4 billion years ago.

Origin of Life

3.8 Billion Years Ago

Solar System

4.5 Billion Years Ago

Dinosaurs Became Extinct

65 Million Years Ago


ANY change in the average characteristics of a population over time.

Does not create new things; gives old things new uses (homologous structures). E.g., Milk Carton birdhouse.

Central Dogma

The information contained in DNA is expressed through the production of mRNA via transcription and the synthesis of proteins via translation of mRNA

Central Dogma

DNA →(transcription)→ mRNA →(translation)→ Protein.


Any change in the sequence of the nucleotide bases in the DNA of an individual. Random changes in the genetic material of organisms.

Mutation / Central Dogma

A change in the sequence of nucleotide bases in the DNA will result in a change in the sequence of the nucleotide bases in the mRNA and this may lead to a change in the sequence of the amino acids in the protein. This new sequence of amino acids in the protein could affect its function either positively or negatively.

Vertical Evolution

New species evolve from pre-existing species by the accumulation of mutations, which are random changes in the genetic material of organisms.

Natural Selection

Mutations that alter the traits of an organism such that their chances of surviving and reproducing are increased.

When a mutation causes a beneficial change, frequency of the mutation may increase in a population from one generation to the next.

Charles Darwin

Origin of the Species. Natural Selection

Carolus Linnaeus

Swedish botanist who invented the taxon classification system in the late 1700s.

Vertical Descent with Mutation

Vertical Descent refers to reproduction: parents → offspring → parents → offspring
Mutation: any change in the sequence of DNA nucleotides.


Two or more molecules bonded together.


Many monomers bonded together.


A measure (in grams) of the amount of matter an object contains.


A measure of the amount of space an object occupies.

Example: VD w/ Mod

Over North America, where much of horse evolution occurred, large areas changed from dense forests to grasslands. The horses' increase in size allowed them to escape predators and travel great distances in search of food.
The changes seen in horses' teeth are consistent with a dietary shift from eating more tender leaves to eating grasses and other vegetation that are more abrasive and require more chewing.

Domain Bacteria

Mostly unicellular prokaryotes that inhabit many diverse environments on Earth.

Domain Archaea

Unicellular prokaryotes that often live in extreme environments, such as hot springs.

Kingdom Animalia

Multicellular organisms that usually have a nervous system and are capable of locomotion. They must eat other organisms or the products of other organisms.

Kingdom Fungi

Unicellular and multicellular organisms that have a cell wall but cannot carry out photosynthesis. Fungi usually survive on decaying organic material.

Kingdom Plantae

Multicellular organisms that carry out photosynthesis.

Kingdom Protista

Unicellular and small multicellular organisms that are now subdivided into seven broad groups based on their evolutionary relationships.


Jellyfish makes green fluorescent protein (GFP). GFP gene is found in the genome of the jellyfish, but the green fluorescent protein is expressed only in the proteome of only certain cells.

With the aid of GFP, researchers can "see"
where genes are expressed in a multicellular organism and where in a cell a particular protein is located.

Hypothesis (Long)

A proposed explanation for a natural phenomenon based on previous observations or studies. Requires work by researchers to evaluate its validity.
Makes testable predictions
Falsifiable - can be shown to be incorrect by additional observations or experimentation.
A hypothesis is never really proven but rather always remains provisional.
Researchers accept the possibility that perhaps they have not yet conceived of the correct hypothesis. After many experiments, biologists may conclude that their hypothesis is consistent with known data, but they should never say the hypothesis is proven.


A proposed idea.


A broad explanation backed by extensive evidence.

Theory (Long)

A broad explanation of some aspect of the natural world substantiated by a large body of evidence. Biological theories incorporate observations, hypothesis testing, and the laws of other disciplines such as chemistry and physics.
Cannot be proven true.
E.g., theory that DNA is the genetic material and that it is organized into units called genes.

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