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Themes in the Study of Life

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Harikrishnan S

on 17 October 2017

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Transcript of Themes in the Study of Life

An Organism’s Basic Unit of Structure and Function

is a quest, an ongoing
inquiry about the
nature of life

is the process of change that
has transformed life on Earth from its
earliest beginnings to the diversity of
organisms living today

Properties of Life
Grow Reproduce Assimilate Communicate Adapt
Novel properties emerge at each level that are absent from the preceding level
Biological systems are far more complex, making the emergent properties of life especially challenging to study
The Dilemma of Reductionism
Reductionism cannot explain higher level of order, yet can analyze complex things by taking it apart
Systems Biology
Holistic approach of understanding emergent properties
A Combination of of components that function together
Approach that attempts to model the dynamic behavior of whole biological systems based on a study of the interactions among the system's parts.
For Ex: How might a drug that lowers blood pressure affect the functioning of organs throughout the Human Body?
The Biosphere
most regions of land, most bodies of water, the atmosphere to an altitude of several kilometers, and even sediments far below the ocean floor
The Ecosystem
all the living things in a particular area, along with all the nonliving components of the environment with which life interacts, such as soil, water, atmospheric gases, and light
The array of organisms inhabiting a particular ecosystem, includes many kinds of trees and other plants, various animals, mushrooms and other fungi, and enormous numbers of diverse microorganisms, which are living forms, such as bacteria, that are too small to see without a microscope. Each of these forms of life is called a
all the individuals of a species living within the bounds of a specified area
a community is the set of populations that inhabit a particular area
Individual living things
a body part that carries out a particular function in the body, consist of multiple tissues
Organ Systems
a team of organs that cooperate in a larger function
a group of cells that work together, performing a specialized function
life’s fundamental unit of
structure and function
various functional components present in cells
a chemical structure consisting of two or more units
called atoms
Analyzing a biological structure
gives us clues about what it does
and how it works
Structure & Function
the actions of organisms are all based on the functioning of cells
cell is the smallest unit of
organization that can perform all activities required for life
Life’s Processes Involve the Expression and Transmission of Genetic Information
In cells that are preparing to divide, the chromosomes may be made visible using a dye that appears blue when bound to the DNA
the genetic information encoded by the DNA directed our development
The lens of the eye (behind the pupil) is able to focus light because lens cells are tightly packed with transparent proteins called
The entire process, by which the information in a gene directs the manufacture of a cellular product, is called
Gene Expression
A particular sequence of nucleotides says the same thing in one organism as it does in another. Differences between organisms reflect differences between their nucleotide sequences rather than between their
genetic codes
The Genetic Code is Universal
A typical human cell has two similar sets of chromosomes, and each set has approximately 3 billion nucleotide pairs of DNA. If the one-letter abbreviations for the nucleotides of a set were written , the genetic text would fill about 700 biology textbooks
the transformation of
from one form to another make life possible
At any level of the biological hierarchy, interactions between the components of the system ensure smooth integration of all the parts, such that they function as a whole. This holds true equally well for the components of an ecosystem and the molecules in a cell;
Nothing in biology makes sense
except in the light of
species of fungi
plant species
vertebrate species (animals with backbones)
insect species
myriad types
of single-celled organisms
similarities between organisms are evident at all levels of the biological hierarchy
Unity in Diversity
On the Origin of Species by Means of

Natural Selection
descent with modification
common ancestors
natural selection
if one population fragmented into
several subpopulations isolated in different environments
Tree of Life
challenge, adventure, luck, planning, reasoning, creativity, patience, persistence
a tentative answer to a well framed question—an explanation on trial
In reality, the process of science is not linear, but is more circular, involving backtracking, repetitions, and interactions of different parts of the process
“To explain all nature is too difficult a task for any one man or even for any one age. ’Tis much better to do a little with certainty, and leave the rest for others that come after you. . . .”
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