Vocabulary for Biology 1 – Chapter 1

Posted on August 11, 2010 by


Bold-Faced Words for Chapter 1

Natural Selection – The differential contribution of offspring to the next generation by various genetic types belonging to the same population.  The mechanism of evolution proposed by Charles Darwin.

Cell – membrane enclosed units.

Prokaryotes – Organisms whose genetic material is not contained within a nucleus. The bacteria. Considered an earlier stage in the evolution of life than the eukaryotes.

Metabolism – [Gr. metabole: to change] • The sum total of the chemical reactions that occur in an organism, or some subset of that total (as in “respiratory metabolism”).

Photosynthesis – [literally, “synthesis out of light”] • Metabolic processes, carried out by green plants, by which visible light is trapped and the energy used to synthesize compounds such as ATP and glucose.

Aerobic – [Gr. aer: air + bios: life] • In the presence of oxygen, or requiring oxygen.

Sexual Reproduction – The combining of genes from two cells into one cell.

Adaptation – In evolutionary biology, a particular structure, physiological process, or behavior that makes an organism better able to survive and reproduce. Also, the evolutionary process that leads to the development or persistence of such a trait.

Eukaryotes – [Gr. eu: true + karyon: kernel or nucleus] • Organisms whose cells contain their genetic material inside a nucleus. Includes all life other than the viruses, Archaebacteria, and Eubacteria.

Organelles – Organized structures that are found in or on cells. Examples: ribosomes, nuclei, mitochrondria, chloroplasts, cilia, and contractile vacuoles.

Spore – [Gr. spora: seed] • In prokaryotes, a resistant cell capable of surviving unfavorable periods.

Development – Progressive change, as in structure or metabolism; in most kinds of organisms, development continues throughout the life of the organism.

Metamorphosis – [Gr. meta: between + morphe: form, shape] • A radical change occurring between one developmental stage and another, as for example from a tadpole to a frog or an insect larva to the adult.

Species – [L.: kind] • The basic lower unit of classification, consisting of a population or series of populations of closely related and similar organisms. The more narrowly defined “biological species” consists of individuals capable of interbreeding freely with each other but not with members of other species.

Emergent Property – A property of a complex system that is not exhibited by its individual component parts.

Domain – the largest unit in the current taxonomic nomenclature. Members of the three domains (Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya) are believed to have been evolving independently of each other for at least a billion years.

Archaea – one of the two prokaryotic domains.  This domain generally consists of extremeophiles (which means that they live in environments with extreme conditions such as heat, acid, or salt).  Archae can be distinguished from bacteria based on a lack of peptidoglycan and presence of unique lipids, as well as by differences in chemical reactions and products.

Bacteria – (singular: bacterium) [Gr. bakterion: little rod] • One of the two prokaryotic domains. Prokaryote in the Domain Bacteria. The chromosomes of bacteria are not contained in nuclear envelopes.

Eukarya – domain of life whose members contain eukaryotic cells with with nuclei and complex cellular compartments called organelles.

Hererotroph – [Gr. heteros: different + trophe: food] • An organism that requires preformed organic molecules as food.  (Contrast with autotroph.)

Genus – (plural: genera) [Gr. Genos: stock, kind] • a group of related, similar species.

Hypothetico-deductive Approach – A method of science in which hypotheses are erected, predictions are made from them, and experiments and observations are performed to test the predictions.

Hypothesis – tentative answer to a question, from which testable predictions can be generated. (Contrast with theory.)

Theory – an explanation or hypothesis that is supported by a wide body of evidence. (Contrast with hypothesis, paradigm.)

Null Hypothesis – The assertion that an effect proposed by its companion hypothesis does not in fact exist.

Experiment – A scientific method in which particular factors are manipulated while other factors are held constant so that the potential influences of the manipulated factors can be determined.
Other Vocabulary Words

Atom – [Gr. atomos: indivisible] • The smallest unit of a chemical element. Consists of a nucleus and one or more electrons.

Molecule – A particle made up of two or more atoms joined by covalent bonds or ionic attractions.

Tissue – A group of many cells with similar and coordinated functions.

Organ – A body part, such as the heart, liver, brain, root, or leaf, composed of different tissues integrated to perform a distinct function for the body as a whole.

Organism – Any living creature.

Population – A group of many organisms of the same species.

Community – Any ecologically integrated group of species of microorganisms, plants, and animals inhabiting a given area.

Biosphere – all of the biological communities of earth and the relationships among them.

Fungus – A member of the kingdom Fungi, a (usually) multicellular eukaryote with absorptive nutrition.

Homeostasis – [Gr. homos: same + stasis: position] • The maintenance of a steady state, such as a constant temperature or a stable social structure, by means of physiological or behavioral feedback responses.

Multicellular – [L. multus: much + cella: chamber] • Consisting of more than one cell, as for example a multicellular organism. (Contrast with unicellular.)

Plant – A member of the kingdom Plantae. Multicellular, gaining its nutrition by photosynthesis.

Radioisotope – A radioactive isotope of an element. Examples are carbon-14 (14C) and hydrogen-3, or tritium (3H).

Speciation – The process of splitting one population into two populations that are reproductively isolated from one another.