Chapter 1 Methods and Concepts in Biology

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Chapter 1 Methods and Concepts in Biology I. Introduction A. What is life? 1. The answer changes during our path to maturity. 2. The degree of insight changes with experience and education. 3. This book is biology revisited. It will provide: a. Deeper understanding. b. A more organized level of understanding. B. To biologists, life reflects its ancient molecular origins and its degree of organization. Life is: 1. A way of capturing and using energy and materials. 2. A commitment to a program of growth and development. 3. A capacity for reproduction. 4. An adjustment to changing conditions. C. Life cannot be understood in isolation from its history and adaptive potential. II. Shared Characteristics of Life A. DNA and Biological Organization 1. Living and nonliving matter are composed of the same particles, operating according to laws governing energy. 2. Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is the special molecule that sets the living world apart from the nonliving by carrying the hereditary instructions for assembly of new organisms. 3. The cell, composed of “biological molecules,” is the basic unit of life. 4. Multicelled organisms have increasingly complex levels of organization that result in tissues >> organs >> organ systems >> organisms >> populations >> communities >> ecosystems >> biosphere. B. Metabolism 1. Metabolism is the cell’s capacity to: a. extract and transform energy from its surroundings, b. use energy for maintenance, growth, and reproduction. 2. By photosynthesis, plants acquire energy from sunlight and store it as chemical energy in carbohydrates and ATP.
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