Introduction into General
Biology
Dr. Cory L. Blackwell
August 25, 2015
What is Biology????
• Bio- (life)……..-ology (study of)
• Biology is the fundamental study of life and living
organisms, including their structure, function,
growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and
taxonomy
• Biology is a broad field of science
– Can you name some of these subdivisions?
• Subdivisions of biology are recognized on the
basis of the scale at which organisms are studied
– Biochemistry examines the basic chemistry of life
– Molecular Biology studies the interactions of the
systems of biological molecules
– Cellular Biology studies the basic building block of life,
the cell.
– Physiology examines the physical and chemical
functions of tissues and organ systems
– Ecology examines how various organisms interact with
one another and with the environment
*List is not all-inclusive*
Contributors to the Field of Biology
• Hippocrates (Greek Physician)
– “Father of Western Medicine”
• Anton von Leeuwenhoek (Dutch Scientist)
– “Father of Microbiology”
• Gregor Mendel (Moravian Monk/Scientist)
– “Father of Genetics”
• Charles Darwin (English Geologist)
– “Father of Evolution”
• Francis Crick and James Watson (Rosalind Franklin)
– Deciphered the structure of DNA
Three States of Being
• Living
• Dead
• Non-living
Living, Dead or Non-Living????
Living, Dead or Non-Living????
Living, Dead, or Non-Living
Living, Dead or Non-Living????
Seven Characteristics of Life
1. Cellular Organization—all living organisms
consist of one or more cells
2. Ordered Complexity—Living organisms
contain many complex molecular structures
and systems that are highly ordered
3. Sensitivity—living things all react or respond
to stimuli.
4. Growth, Development, and Reproduction—
all organisms are capable growing and
reproducing. Through reproducing they pass
on genetic material to their offspring
5. Energy Utilization—all living things use
energy to live and grow
6. Homeostasis—All organisms maintain
relatively constant internal conditions that
are different from their environment
7. Evolutionary Adaptation—all organisms
interact with other organisms and their
environment in ways that influence their
survival.
– “Survival of the Fittest” or “Only the Strong
Survive”
– http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/evolut
ionary-adaptation-in-the-human-lineage-12397
– “Survival of the Sickest” by Sharon Moalem
Living, Dead or Non-Living????
Influenza A Virus
Hierarchical Organization
• The organization of the biological world is
arranged from smallest to largest.
– Each level builds on the level below it (upside
down pyramid)
• There are five levels of hierarchical
organization
1. Cellular Level
• At the cellular level, atoms interact to form
molecules.
• Complex biological molecules are assembled into
organelles.
– Organs of a cell
• Organelles are contained within membranebound units called cells.
2. The Organismal Level
• Cells, in complex multi-cellular organisms, exhibit
different levels of organization
– Tissues
• Groups of similar cells that acts as a functional unit
– Organs
• Body structures composed of several different tissues
– Organ systems
• Multiple organs that work together to complete a function
– Organism
• Comprised of the different organ systems working together
3. The Population Level
• Individual organisms can be categorized into
several hierarchical levels in the living world
– Species
• A particular kind of organism form a species (humans)
– Population
• Group of organisms of the same species living in the same
place (humans in Clermont)
– Biological Community
• Consists of all the populations of DIFFERENT species living
together in the same environment (all living organisms in
Clermont)
4. Ecosystem Level
• The biological community AND the physical
habitat (non-living) that the community lives
is known as an Ecosystem
– Swamps
– Deserts
– Jungles
5. The Biosphere
• The combination of all ecosystems
• The planet Earth is a Biosphere
• Reductionism—principle of trying to
understand a complex system by examining its
simple components
Classification and Identification of Life
• Diversity is the hallmark of life
– 1.8 million species have been identified
– Group organisms according to their similarities
• What drives this diversity????
• DNA analysis divide all organisms into 3 domains
– Eukaryotes, Bacteria, and Archaea
• Bacteria and Archaea make up the group Prokaryotes
Taxonomy
Taxonomy—the science of classifying organisms
(taxa—categories of organisms)
• Provides a reference for identifying organisms
• Carlos Linnaeus introduced a formal system of
classification
– Used Latin names to provide a “common”
language for all organisms
Figure 10.1 The Three-Domain System.
Eukarya
Fungi
Origin of mitochondria
Bacteria
Animals
Amebae
Origin of chloroplasts
Mitochondria
Slime molds
Archaea
Cyanobacteria
Proteobacteria
Chloroplasts
Methanogens
Plants
Extreme
halophiles
Ciliates
Green
algae
Dinoflagellates
Diatoms
Hyperthermophiles
Gram-positive
bacteria
Euglenozoa
Thermotoga
Giardia
Horizontal gene transfer
occurred within the
community of early cells.
Mitochondrion degenerates
Nucleoplasm grows larger
Lateral Gene Transfer
Vertical Gene Transfer
Scientific Nomenclature
• Common names
– Vary with languages and with geography
– Spanish Moss
• Tillandsia usneiodes
• Binomial nomenclature (genus + specific
epithet)
– Used worldwide
– Genus capitalized and species lowercase
• Escherichia coli and Homo sapiens
Taxonomic Hierarchy
Domain
Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
Species
What is Science?
• Science is concerned with developing an
increasingly accurate understanding of the world
around us using both observation and reasoning
– Inquiry—search for information and explanations of
natural phenomena
– Data—recorded observations
• Qualitative or Quantitative
• Two types of reasoning
1. Deductive Reasoning
2. Inductive Reasoning
Deductive vs. Inductive Reasoning
• Deductive starts as a general statement and
examines possibilities to reach a conclusion
(general to specific)
– All men are dogs. Dwayne Johnson is a man. Dwayne
Johnson must be a dog.
• Inductive makes broad generalizations based on
specific observations (specific to general)
– Shakira is a great dancer. Shakira is Colombian. All
Colombians are great dancers.
– Also known as Inference
Scientific Method
• Every scientific discipline is governed by the
scientific method.
• Defined as the body of techniques utilized in
investigating phenomena, acquiring new
knowledge, or correcting and integrating
previous knowledge
• Five steps to the scientific method
5 Steps of the Scientific Method
1. Present a question
Why did my car not start this morning?
2. Form a hypothesis—a conjecture or belief
based on already established information
The car did not start because the battery is
“dead”.
3. Make a prediction
If I get a new battery the car will start.
5 Steps of Scientific Method
4. Test your hypothesis (Experiment)
Purchase a new battery from Autozone, replace the
battery, turn the ignition.
5. Observe results and make an analysis
Did the car start? If not, then form another
hypothesis
“Control vs. Experimental”
Control Experiment have pre-established outcomesand
are used to validate the experiment
Independent vs. Dependent variable
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Introduction to Biology