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BIOL 1406 Course Guide

Biology for Science Majors I

Discussion Topics

Scientific Method


In the example below, the scientific method is used to solve an everyday problem. Match the scientific method steps (numbered items) with the process of solving the everyday problem (lettered items). Based on the results of the experiment, is the hypothesis correct? If it is incorrect, propose some alternative hypotheses.

1. Observation a. There is something wrong with the electrical outlet.
2. Question b. If something is wrong with the outlet, my coffeemaker also won’t work when plugged into it.
3. Hypothesis (answer)  c. My toaster doesn’t toast my bread.
4. Prediction d. I plug my coffee maker into the outlet.
5. Experiment e. My coffeemaker works.
6. Result f. Why doesn’t my toaster work?


-Adapted from Biology 2e by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0  (See 1.1 The Science of Biology)
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Biological levels

Figure 1.16 shows the biological levels of organization of living things. From a single organelle to the entire biosphere, living organisms are parts of a highly structured hierarchy. (credit “organelles”: modification of work by Umberto Salvagnin; credit “cells”: modification of work by Bruce Wetzel, Harry Schaefer/ National Cancer Institute; credit “tissues”: modification of work by Kilbad; Fama Clamosa; Mikael Häggström; credit “organs”: modification of work by Mariana Ruiz Villareal; credit “organisms”: modification of work by "Crystal"/Flickr; credit “ecosystems”: modification of work by US Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters; credit “biosphere”: modification of work by NASA)

Which of the following statements is false?

  1. Tissues exist within organs which exist within organ systems.
  2. Communities exist within populations which exist within ecosystems.
  3. Organelles exist within cells which exist within tissues.
  4. Communities exist within ecosystems which exist in the biosphere.

-Adapted from Biology 2e by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0  (See 1.2 Themes and Concepts of Biology)
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Bohr Diagram

An atom may give, take, or share electrons with another atom to achieve a full valence shell, the most stable electron configuration. Looking at this figure, how many electrons do elements in group 1 need to lose in order to achieve a stable electron configuration? How many electrons do elements in groups 14 and 17 need to gain to achieve a stable configuration?

-Adapted from Biology 2e by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0  (See 2.1 Atoms, Isotopes, Ions, and Molecules: The Building Blocks)
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Video icon View a short video on ionic and covalent bonding.

Biological Macromolecules


Biological macromolecule

Building blocks




Monosaccharides (simple sugars)

Provide cells with quick/short-term energy, source of dietary fiber

Glucose, sucrose, starch, cellulose, chitin


Fatty acids and glycerol

Provide cells with long-term energy, make up biological membranes

Fats, phospholipids, waxes, oils, grease, steroids


Amino acids

Provide cell structure, send chemical signals, speed up chemical reactions, etc

Keratin (found in hair and nails), hormones, enzymes, antibodies

Nucleic acids


Store and pass on genetic information



Key Terms

Biological macromolecule - A large, organic molecule such as carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids.

Monomer - A molecule that is a building block for larger molecules (polymers). For example, an amino acid acts as the building blocks for proteins.

Polymer - A large molecule made of repeating subunits (monomers). For example, a carbohydrate is a polymer that is made of repeating monosaccharides.

-Adapted from Biological macromolecules review by Khan Academy is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0. All Khan Academy content is available for free at

Animal Cell

Animal Cell

Plant Cell

If the nucleolus were not able to carry out its function, what other cellular organelles would be affected?

-Adapted from Biology 2e by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0 (See 4.3 Eukaryotic Cells)
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Osmosis is the movement of water through a semipermeable membrane according to the water's concentration gradient across the membrane, which is inversely proportional to the solutes' concentration. While diffusion transports material across membranes and within cells, osmosis transports only water across a membrane and the membrane limits the solutes' diffusion in the water. Not surprisingly, the aquaporins that facilitate water movement play a large role in osmosis, most prominently in red blood cells and the membranes of kidney tubules.

In an isotonic solution, the extracellular fluid has the same osmolarity as the cell. If the cell's osmolarity matches that of the extracellular fluid, there will be no net movement of water into or out of the cell, although water will still move in and out. Blood cells and plant cells in hypertonic, isotonic, and hypotonic solutions take on characteristic appearances (Figure 5.12).

Osmotic Pressure

A doctor injects a patient with what the doctor thinks is an isotonic saline solution. The patient dies, and an autopsy reveals that many red blood cells have been destroyed. Do you think the solution the doctor injected was really isotonic?

-Adapted from Biology 2e by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0 (See 5.2 Passive Transport)
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Primary Active Transport

The primary active transport that functions with the active transport of sodium and potassium allows secondary active transport to occur. The second transport method is still active because it depends on using energy as does primary transport (Figure 5.18).

Na+ K+ Pump

One of the most important pumps in animal cells is the sodium-potassium pump (Na+-K+ ATPase), which maintains the electrochemical gradient (and the correct concentrations of Na+ and K+) in living cells. The sodium-potassium pump moves K+ into the cell while moving Na+ out at the same time, at a ratio of three Na+ for every two K+ ions moved in. The Na+-K+ ATPase exists in two forms, depending on its orientation to the cell's interior or exterior and its affinity for either sodium or potassium ions. The process consists of the following six steps.

  1. With the enzyme oriented towards the cell's interior, the carrier has a high affinity for sodium ions. Three ions bind to the protein.
  2. The protein carrier hydrolyzes ATP and a low-energy phosphate group attaches to it.
  3. As a result, the carrier changes shape and reorients itself towards the membrane's exterior. The protein’s affinity for sodium decreases and the three sodium ions leave the carrier.
  4. The shape change increases the carrier’s affinity for potassium ions, and two such ions attach to the protein. Subsequently, the low-energy phosphate group detaches from the carrier.
  5. With the phosphate group removed and potassium ions attached, the carrier protein repositions itself towards the cell's interior.
  6. The carrier protein, in its new configuration, has a decreased affinity for potassium, and the two ions moves into the cytoplasm. The protein now has a higher affinity for sodium ions, and the process starts again.

Several things have happened as a result of this process. At this point, there are more sodium ions outside the cell than inside and more potassium ions inside than out. For every three sodium ions that move out, two potassium ions move in. This results in the interior being slightly more negative relative to the exterior. This difference in charge is important in creating the conditions necessary for the secondary process. The sodium-potassium pump is, therefore, an electrogenic pump (a pump that creates a charge imbalance), creating an electrical imbalance across the membrane and contributing to the membrane potential.

Secondary Active Transport (Co-transport)

Secondary active transport uses the kinetic energy of the sodium ions to bring other compounds, against their concentration gradient into the cell. As sodium ion concentrations build outside of the plasma membrane because of the primary active transport process, this creates an electrochemical gradient. If a channel protein exists and is open, the sodium ions will move down its concentration gradient across the membrane. This movement transports other substances that must be attached to the same transport protein in order for the sodium ions to move across the membrane (Figure 5.19). Many amino acids, as well as glucose, enter a cell this way. This secondary process also stores high-energy hydrogen ions in the mitochondria of plant and animal cells in order to produce ATP. The potential energy that accumulates in the stored hydrogen ions translates into kinetic energy as the ions surge through the channel protein ATP synthase, and that energy then converts ADP into ATP.

Secondary Active Transport

If the pH outside the cell decreases, would you expect the amount of amino acids transported into the cell to increase or decrease?

-Adapted from Biology 2e by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0  (See 5.3 Active Transport)
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First Half of Glycolysis (Energy-Requiring Steps)

Step 1. The first step in glycolysis (Figure 7.6) is catalyzed by hexokinase, an enzyme with broad specificity that catalyzes the phosphorylation of six-carbon sugars. Hexokinase phosphorylates glucose using ATP as the source of the phosphate, producing glucose-6-phosphate, a more reactive form of glucose. This reaction prevents the phosphorylated glucose molecule from continuing to interact with the GLUT proteins, and it can no longer leave the cell because the negatively charged phosphate will not allow it to cross the hydrophobic interior of the plasma membrane.

Step 2. In the second step of glycolysis, an isomerase converts glucose-6-phosphate into one of its isomers, fructose-6-phosphate (this isomer has a phosphate attached at the location of the sixth carbon of the ring). An isomerase is an enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of a molecule into one of its isomers. (This change from phosphoglucose to phosphofructose allows the eventual split of the sugar into two three-carbon molecules.)

Step 3. The third step is the phosphorylation of fructose-6-phosphate, catalyzed by the enzyme phosphofructokinase. A second ATP molecule donates a high-energy phosphate to fructose-6-phosphate, producing fructose-1,6-bisphosphate. In this pathway, phosphofructokinase is a rate-limiting enzyme. It is active when the concentration of ADP is high; it is less active when ADP levels are low and the concentration of ATP is high. Thus, if there is “sufficient” ATP in the system, the pathway slows down. This is a type of end product inhibition, since ATP is the end product of glucose catabolism.

Step 4. The newly added high-energy phosphates further destabilize fructose-1,6-bisphosphate. The fourth step in glycolysis employs an enzyme, aldolase, to cleave fructose-1,6-bisphosphate into two three-carbon isomers: dihydroxyacetone phosphate and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate.

Step 5. In the fifth step, an isomerase transforms the dihydroxyacetone-phosphate into its isomer, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate. Thus, the pathway will continue with two molecules of a glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate. At this point in the pathway, there is a net investment of energy from two ATP molecules in the breakdown of one glucose molecule.

Glycolysis Part 1

Second Half of Glycolysis (Energy-Releasing Steps)

So far, glycolysis has cost the cell two ATP molecules and produced two small, three-carbon sugar molecules. Both of these molecules will proceed through the second half of the pathway, and sufficient energy will be extracted to pay back the two ATP molecules used as an initial investment and produce a profit for the cell of two additional ATP molecules and two even higher-energy NADH molecules.

Step 6. The sixth step in glycolysis (Figure 7.7) oxidizes the sugar (glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate), extracting high-energy electrons, which are picked up by the electron carrier NAD+, producing NADH. The sugar is then phosphorylated by the addition of a second phosphate group, producing 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate. Note that the second phosphate group does not require another ATP molecule.

Glycolysis Part 2

Here again is a potential limiting factor for this pathway. The continuation of the reaction depends upon the availability of the oxidized form of the electron carrier, NAD+. Thus, NADH must be continuously oxidized back into NAD+ in order to keep this step going. If NAD+ is not available, the second half of glycolysis slows down or stops. If oxygen is available in the system, the NADH will be oxidized readily, though indirectly, and the high-energy electrons from the hydrogen released in this process will be used to produce ATP. In an environment without oxygen, an alternate pathway (fermentation) can provide the oxidation of NADH to NAD+.

Step 7. In the seventh step, catalyzed by phosphoglycerate kinase (an enzyme named for the reverse reaction), 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate donates a high-energy phosphate to ADP, forming one molecule of ATP. (This is an example of substrate-level phosphorylation.) A carbonyl group on the 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate is oxidized to a carboxyl group, and 3-phosphoglycerate is formed.

Step 8. In the eighth step, the remaining phosphate group in 3-phosphoglycerate moves from the third carbon to the second carbon, producing 2-phosphoglycerate (an isomer of 3-phosphoglycerate). The enzyme catalyzing this step is a mutase (isomerase).

Step 9. Enolase catalyzes the ninth step. This enzyme causes 2-phosphoglycerate to lose water from its structure; this is a dehydration reaction, resulting in the formation of a double bond that increases the potential energy in the remaining phosphate bond and produces phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP).

Step 10. The last step in glycolysis is catalyzed by the enzyme pyruvate kinase (the enzyme in this case is named for the reverse reaction of pyruvate’s conversion into PEP) and results in the production of a second ATP molecule by substrate-level phosphorylation and the compound pyruvic acid (or its salt form, pyruvate). Many enzymes in enzymatic pathways are named for the reverse reactions, since the enzyme can catalyze both forward and reverse reactions (these may have been described initially by the reverse reaction that takes place in vitro, under nonphysiological conditions).

Gain a better understanding of the breakdown of glucose by glycolysis by viewing this video .

-Adapted from Biology 2e by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0  (See 7.2 Gycolysis)
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Citric Acid Cycle

The citric acid cycle takes place in the matrix of mitochondria. Almost all of the enzymes of the citric acid cycle are soluble, with the single exception of the enzyme succinate dehydrogenase, which is embedded in the inner membrane of the mitochondrion. Unlike glycolysis, the citric acid cycle is a closed loop: the last part of the pathway regenerates the compound used in the first step. The eight steps of the cycle are a series of redox, dehydration, hydration, and decarboxylation reactions that produce two carbon dioxide molecules, one GTP/ATP, and the reduced carriers NADH and FADH2 (Figure 7.9). This is considered an aerobic pathway because the NADH and FADH2 produced must transfer their electrons to the next pathway in the system, which will use oxygen. If this transfer does not occur, the oxidation steps of the citric acid cycle also do not occur. Note that the citric acid cycle produces very little ATP directly and does not directly consume oxygen.

Citric Acid Cycle

Steps in the Citric Acid Cycle

Step 1. Prior to the first step, a transitional phase occurs during which pyruvic acid is converted to acetyl CoA. Then, the first step of the cycle begins: This condensation step combines the two-carbon acetyl group with a four-carbon oxaloacetate molecule to form a six-carbon molecule of citrate. CoA is bound to a sulfhydryl group (-SH) and diffuses away to eventually combine with another acetyl group. This step is irreversible because it is highly exergonic. The rate of this reaction is controlled by negative feedback and the amount of ATP available. If ATP levels increase, the rate of this reaction decreases. If ATP is in short supply, the rate increases.

Step 2. In step two, citrate loses one water molecule and gains another as citrate is converted into its isomer, isocitrate.

Step 3. In step three, isocitrate is oxidized, producing a five-carbon molecule, α-ketoglutarate, along with a molecule of CO2 and two electrons, which reduce NAD+ to NADH. This step is also regulated by negative feedback from ATP and NADH and a positive effect of ADP.

Step 4. Steps three and four are both oxidation and decarboxylation steps, which as we have seen, release electrons that reduce NAD+ to NADH and release carboxyl groups that form CO2 molecules. Alpha-ketoglutarate is the product of step three, and a succinyl group is the product of step four. CoA binds with the succinyl group to form succinyl CoA. The enzyme that catalyzes step four is regulated by feedback inhibition of ATP, succinyl CoA, and NADH.

Step 5. In step five, a phosphate group is substituted for coenzyme A, and a high-energy bond is formed. This energy is used in substrate-level phosphorylation (during the conversion of the succinyl group to succinate) to form either guanine triphosphate (GTP) or ATP. There are two forms of the enzyme, called isoenzymes, for this step, depending upon the type of animal tissue in which they are found. One form is found in tissues that use large amounts of ATP, such as heart and skeletal muscle. This form produces ATP. The second form of the enzyme is found in tissues that have a high number of anabolic pathways, such as liver. This form produces GTP. GTP is energetically equivalent to ATP; however, its use is more restricted. In particular, protein synthesis primarily uses GTP.

Step 6. Step six is a dehydration process that converts succinate into fumarate. Two hydrogen atoms are transferred to FAD, reducing it to FADH2. (Note: the energy contained in the electrons of these hydrogens is insufficient to reduce NAD+ but adequate to reduce FAD.) Unlike NADH, this carrier remains attached to the enzyme and transfers the electrons to the electron transport chain directly. This process is made possible by the localization of the enzyme catalyzing this step inside the inner membrane of the mitochondrion.

Step 7. Water is added by hydrolysis to fumarate during step seven, and malate is produced. The last step in the citric acid cycle regenerates oxaloacetate by oxidizing malate. Another molecule of NADH is then produced in the process.

View an animation of the citric acid cycle here.

-Adapted from Biology 2e by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0  (See 7.3 Oxidation of Pyruvate and the Citric Acid Cycle)
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Photosynthesis Equation








On a hot, dry day, the guard cells of plants close their stomata to conserve water. What impact will this have on photosynthesis?







Two Part of Photosynthesis

2 parts photosynthesis


-Adapted from Biology 2e by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0  (See 8.1 Overview of Photosynthesis)
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Learn more about photosynthesis at Khan Academy link .

Karyokinesis (Mitosis)

Karyokinesis, also known as mitosis, is divided into a series of phases—prophase, prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase—that result in the division of the cell nucleus (Figure 10.6).


Which of the following is the correct order of events in mitosis?

  1. Sister chromatids line up at the metaphase plate. The kinetochore becomes attached to the mitotic spindle. The nucleus reforms and the cell divides. Cohesin proteins break down and the sister chromatids separate.
  2. The kinetochore becomes attached to the mitotic spindle. Cohesin proteins break down and the sister chromatids separate. Sister chromatids line up at the metaphase plate. The nucleus reforms and the cell divides.
  3. The kinetochore becomes attached to the cohesin proteins. Sister chromatids line up at the metaphase plate. The kinetochore breaks down and the sister chromatids separate. The nucleus reforms and the cell divides.
  4. The kinetochore becomes attached to the mitotic spindle. Sister chromatids line up at the metaphase plate. Cohesin proteins break down and the sister chromatids separate. The nucleus reforms and the cell divides.

-Adapted from Biology 2e by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0  (See 10.2 The Cell Cycle)
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The Process of Meiosis


Review the process of meiosis, observing how chromosomes align and migrate, at Meiosis: An Interactive Animation.

For further information follow link to meiosis. Please note: STC username and password needed to view library database material from off campus.


Comparing Meiosis and Mitosis

Comparing Meiosis Mitosis

Click through the steps of this interactive animation to compare the meiotic process of cell division to that of mitosis at How Cells Divide.

-Adapted from Biology 2e by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0  (See 11.1 The Process of Meiosis)
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Mendel's Model System

Mendel’s seminal work was accomplished using the garden pea, Pisum sativum, to study inheritance. This species naturally self-fertilizes, such that pollen encounters ova within individual flowers. The flower petals remain sealed tightly until after pollination, preventing pollination from other plants. The result is highly inbred, or “true-breeding,” pea plants. These are plants that always produce offspring that look like the parent. By experimenting with true-breeding pea plants, Mendel avoided the appearance of unexpected traits in offspring that might occur if the plants were not true breeding. The garden pea also grows to maturity within one season, meaning that several generations could be evaluated over a relatively short time. Finally, large quantities of garden peas could be cultivated simultaneously, allowing Mendel to conclude that his results did not come about simply by chance.

Mendelian Crosses

Mendel performed hybridizations, which involve mating two true-breeding individuals that have different traits. In the pea, which is naturally self-pollinating, this is done by manually transferring pollen from the anther of a mature pea plant of one variety to the stigma of a separate mature pea plant of the second variety. In plants, pollen carries the male gametes (sperm) to the stigma, a sticky organ that traps pollen and allows the sperm to move down the pistil to the female gametes (ova) below. To prevent the pea plant that was receiving pollen from self-fertilizing and confounding his results, Mendel painstakingly removed all of the anthers from the plant’s flowers before they had a chance to mature.

Plants used in first-generation crosses were called P0, or parental generation one (Figure 12.3). After each cross, Mendel collected the seeds belonging to the P0 plants and grew them the following season. These offspring were called the F1, or the first filial (filial = offspring, daughter or son) generation. Once Mendel examined the characteristics in the F1 generation of plants, he allowed them to self-fertilize naturally. He then collected and grew the seeds from the F1 plants to produce the F2, or second filial, generation. Mendel’s experiments extended beyond the F2 generation to the F3 and F4 generations, and so on, but it was the ratio of characteristics in the P0−F1−F2 generations that were the most intriguing and became the basis for Mendel’s postulates.


-Adapted from Biology 2e by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0 (See 12.1 Mendel's Experiments and the Laws of Probability)
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DNA Replication


Miskevich, F. (2016). Microbiology. QuickStudy Reference Guides.  Link to see. * STC Jagnet username and password required to access library database material from off campus.

Classification Levels

Taxonomy (which literally means “arrangement law”) is the science of classifying organisms to construct internationally shared classification systems with each organism placed into increasingly more inclusive groupings. Think about a grocery store's organization. One large space is divided into departments, such as produce, dairy, and meats. Then each department further divides into aisles, then each aisle into categories and brands, and then finally a single product. We call this organization from larger to smaller, more specific categories a hierarchical system.

The taxonomic classification system (also called the Linnaean system after its inventor, Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician) uses a hierarchical model. Moving from the point of origin, the groups become more specific, until one branch ends as a single species. For example, after the common beginning of all life, scientists divide organisms into three large categories called domains: Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya. Within each domain is a second category called a kingdom. After kingdoms, the subsequent categories of increasing specificity are: phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species (Figure 20.5).


-From Biology 2e by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0  (See 20.1 Organizing Life on Earth)
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Charles Darwin and Natural Selection

In the mid-nineteenth century, two naturalists, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, independently conceived and described the actual mechanism for evolution. Importantly, each naturalist spent time exploring the natural world on expeditions to the tropics. From 1831 to 1836, Darwin traveled around the world on H.M.S. Beagle, including stops in South America, Australia, and the southern tip of Africa. Wallace traveled to Brazil to collect insects in the Amazon rainforest from 1848 to 1852 and to the Malay Archipelago from 1854 to 1862. Darwin’s journey, like Wallace’s later journeys to the Malay Archipelago, included stops at several island chains, the last being the Galápagos Islands west of Ecuador. On these islands, Darwin observed species of organisms on different islands that were clearly similar, yet had distinct differences. For example, the ground finches inhabiting the Galápagos Islands comprised several species with a unique beak shape (Figure 18.2). The species on the islands had a graded series of beak sizes and shapes with very small differences between the most similar. He observed that these finches closely resembled another finch species on the South American mainland. Darwin imagined that the island species might be species modified from one of the original mainland species. Upon further study, he realized that each finch's varied beaks helped the birds acquire a specific type of food. For example, seed-eating finches had stronger, thicker beaks for breaking seeds, and insect-eating finches had spear-like beaks for stabbing their prey.

Darwin finches

Wallace and Darwin both observed similar patterns in other organisms and they independently developed the same explanation for how and why such changes could take place. Darwin called this mechanism natural selection. Natural selection, or “survival of the fittest,” is the more prolific reproduction of individuals with favorable traits that survive environmental change because of those traits. This leads to evolutionary change.

-Adapted from Biology 2e by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0  (See 18.1 Understanding Evolution)
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