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Biology For Dummies, 3rd Edition

Rene Fester Kratz

ISBN: 978-1-119-34538-1 March 2017 416 Pages

Description

The ultimate guide to understanding biology

Have you ever wondered how the food you eat becomes the energy your body needs to keep going? The theory of evolution says that humans and chimps descended from a common ancestor, but does it tell us how and why? We humans are insatiably curious creatures who can't help wondering how things work—starting with our own bodies. Wouldn't it be great to have a single source of quick answers to all our questions about how living things work? Now there is.

From molecules to animals, cells to ecosystems, Biology For Dummies answers all your questions about how living things work. Written in plain English and packed with dozens of enlightening illustrations, this reference guide covers the most recent developments and discoveries in evolutionary, reproductive, and ecological biology. It's also complemented with lots of practical, up-to-date examples to bring the information to life.

  • Discover how living things work
  • Think like a biologist and use scientific methods
  • Understand lifecycle processes

Whether you're enrolled in a biology class or just want to know more about this fascinating and ever-evolving field of study, Biology For Dummies will help you unlock the mysteries of how life works.

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Foolish Assumptions 2

Icons Used in This Book 2

Beyond the Book 3

Where to Go from Here 3

Part 1: Biology Basics 5

Chapter 1: Exploring the Living World 7

It All Starts with a Cell 8

Life Begets Life: Reproduction and Genetics 8

Making the Connection between Ecosystems and Evolution 9

Getting Up Close and Personal with the Anatomy and Physiology of Animals 10

Comparing Plants to People 11

Chapter 2: How Life Is Studied 13

Living Things: Why Biologists Study Them and What Defines Them 13

Defining what it means to be alive 14

Getting savvy about systems 16

Making Sense of the World through Observations 17

Introducing the scientific method 18

Designing experiments 20

Seeing Science as the Constant Sharing of New Ideas 24

Tracking Down Scientific Information 25

Journals: Not just for recording dreams 25

Textbooks: A student’s go-to source 26

The popular press: Not always accurate 26

The Internet: A wealth of information, not all of it good 27

Chapter 3: The Chemistry of Life 29

Exploring Why Matter Matters 29

Recognizing the Differences between Atoms, Elements, and Isotopes 31

“Bohr”ing you with atoms 31

Elements of elements 32

I so dig isotopes 34

Molecules, Compounds, and Bonds 34

Acids and Bases (Not a Heavy Metal Band) 35

 “Ph”iguring out the pH scale 36

Buffing up on buffers 37

Carbon-Based Molecules: The Basis for All Life 38

Providing energy: Carbohydrates 39

Making life possible: Proteins 42

Drawing the cellular road map: Nucleic acids 44

Supplying structure, energy, and more: Lipids 47

Chapter 4: The Living Cell 49

An Overview of Cells 49

Peeking at Prokaryotes 51

Examining the Structure of Eukaryotic Cells 52

Cells and the Organelles: Not a Motown Doo-wop Group 54

Holding it all together: The plasma membrane 55

Supporting the cell: The cytoskeleton 59

Controlling the show: The nucleus 59

Creating proteins: Ribosomes 60

Serving as the cell’s factory: The endoplasmic reticulum 60

Preparing products for distribution: The Golgi apparatus 61

Cleaning up the trash: Lysosomes 61

Destroying toxins: Peroxisomes 62

Providing energy, ATP-style: Mitochondria 62

Converting energy: Chloroplasts 62

Presenting Enzymes, the Jump-Starters 63

Staying the same 64

. . . while lowering activation energy 65

Getting some help from cofactors and coenzymes 65

Controlling enzymes through feedback inhibition 66

Chapter 5: Acquiring Energy to Run the Motor 67

What’s Energy Got to Do with It? 67

Looking at the rules regarding energy 68

Metabolizing molecules 69

Transferring energy with ATP 69

Consuming food for matter and energy 70

Finding food versus producing your own 71

Photosynthesis: Using Sunlight, Carbon Dioxide, and Water to Make Food 72

Transforming energy from the ultimate energy source 74

Putting matter and energy together 74

Cellular Respiration: Using Oxygen to Break Down Food for Energy 75

Breaking down food 77

Transferring energy to ATP 78

Energy and Your Body 79

Part 2: Let’s Talk about Sex, Baby: Cell Reproduction and Genetics 81

Chapter 6: Dividing to Conquer: Cell Division 83

Reproduction: Keep On Keepin’ On 83

Welcome to DNA Replication 101 84

Cell Division: Out with the Old, In with the New 88

Interphase: Getting organized 88

Mitosis: One for you, and one for you 91

Meiosis: It’s all about sex, baby 93

How Sexual Reproduction Creates Genetic Variation 98

Mutations 99

Crossing-over 99

Independent assortment 99

Fertilization 100

Nondisjunction 100

Pink and blue chromosomes 101

Chapter 7: Making Mendel Proud: Understanding Genetics 103

Why You’re Unique: Heritable Traits and the Factors Affecting Them 103

“Monk”ing Around with Peas: Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance 105

Pure breeding the parentals 105

Analyzing the F1 and F2 generations 106

Reviewing Mendel’s results 106

Diving into the Pool of Genetic Terminology 107

Bearing Genetic Crosses 108

Studying Genetic Traits in Humans 111

Creating pedigree charts 111

Drawing conclusions about traits 113

Moving Beyond Mendel 113

All the shades of gray in between: Polygenic inheritance 114

When blue and yellow make green: Incomplete dominance 115

Share and share alike: Co-dominance 116

Boys vs girls: Sex-linked inheritance 117

Chapter 8: Reading the Book of Life: DNA and Proteins 119

Proteins Make Traits Happen, and DNA Makes the Proteins 119

Moving from DNA to RNA to Protein: The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology 120

Rewriting DNA’s message: Transcription 121

Putting on the finishing touches: RNA processing 124

Converting the code to the right language: Translation 124

Mistakes Happen: The Consequences of Mutation 130

Giving Cells Some Control: Gene Regulation 132

Adapting to environmental changes 133

Becoming an expert through differentiation 133

Chapter 9: Engineering the Code: DNA Technology 135

Understanding Just What’s Involved in DNA Technology 136

Cutting DNA with restriction enzymes 136

Using gel electrophoresis to separate molecules 136

Copying a gene with PCR 138

Reading a gene with DNA sequencing 141

Mapping the Genes of Humanity 143

Genetically Modifying Organisms 145

Combining DNA from different sources 145

Using vectors to send in the genes 146

Editing genes with CRISPR-cas 148

The pros and cons of GMOs 151

Part 3: It’s a Small, Interconnected World 155

Chapter 10: Exploring the Living World: Biodiversity and Classification 157

Biodiversity: Recognizing How Our Differences Make Us Stronger 157

Valuing biodiversity 158

Surveying the threats posed by human actions 159

Exploring the extinction of species 160

Protecting biodiversity 161

Meet Your Neighbors: Looking at Life on Earth 162

Unsung heroes: Bacteria 162

A bacterial impersonator: Archaeans 163

A taste of the familiar: Eukaryotes 163

Pirates of the living world: Viruses 165

Climbing the Tree of Life: The Classification System of Living Things 167

Mastering the domains 168

Organizing life into smaller and smaller groups 169

Playing the name game 172

Chapter 11: Observing How Organisms Get Along 173

Ecosystems Bring It All Together 173

Biomes: Communities of life 174

Why can’t we be friends: Interactions between species 176

Studying Populations Is Popular in Ecology 177

Reviewing the basic concepts of population ecology 177

Discovering how populations grow 180

Taking a closer look at the human population 184

Moving Energy and Matter around within Ecosystems 187

Going with the (energy) flow 189

Cycling matter through ecosystems 192

Chapter 12: Evolving Species in an Ever-Changing World 197

What People Used to Believe 198

How Charles Darwin Challenged Age-Old Beliefs about Life on Earth 199

Owing it all to the birds 199

Darwin’s theory of biological evolution 200

The idea of natural selection 201

The Evidence for Biological Evolution 204

Biochemistry 205

Comparative anatomy 205

Geographic distribution of species 206

Molecular biology 207

Fossil record 208

Observable data 208

Radioisotope dating 209

Why So Controversial? Evolution versus Creationism 209

How Humans Evolved 211

Fossil finds 212

Digging into DNA 214

Check out the big brain on the Homo sapiens 215

Part 4: Systems Galore! Animal Structure and Function 217

Chapter 13: Pondering the Principles of Physiology 219

Studying Function at All Levels of Life 219

Wrapping Your Head around the Big Physiological Ideas 221

Evolving the perfect form 221

Balancing the body to maintain homeostasis 222

Getting the message across plasma membranes 224

Recognizing that what comes in, must go out 225

Chapter 14: Moving and Shaking: Skeletal and Muscular Systems 227

Doing the Locomotion, Animal-Style 227

The Types of Skeletal Systems 228

Splitting apart vertebrate skeletons 229

Boning up on bones 229

Joining the movement fun 232

Why Muscles Are So Essential 232

Muscle tissue and physiology 233

Muscle contraction 235

Chapter 15: Going with the Flow: Respiratory and Circulatory Systems 239

Passing Gas: How Animals “Breathe” 240

Integumentary exchange 240

Gills 241

Tracheal exchange systems 241

Lungs 242

Circulation: Nutrients In, Garbage Out 245

Open circulatory systems 245

Closed circulatory systems 245

Getting to the Heart of Simpler Animals 246

A worm’s heart and circulatory system 246

A fish’s heart and circulatory system 247

Exploring the Human Heart and Circulatory System 247

Entering the cardiac cycle 250

Navigating the path of blood through the body 251

Seeing what makes your ticker tick 254

A Bloody-Important Fluid 255

The solids found in your essential fluid 255

The plasma “stream” in your bloodstream 257

How blood clots form 257

Chapter 16: Checking Out the Plumbing: Animal Digestive and Excretory Systems 259

Obtaining Food and Breaking It Down 260

The Ins and Outs of Digestive Systems 261

Incomplete versus complete digestive tracts 261

Continuous versus discontinuous feeders 262

Traveling through the Human Digestive System 262

The busiest stop of all — your mouth 262

The inner workings of your stomach 264

The long and winding road of your small intestine 265

Absorbing the Stuff Your Body Needs 266

How nutrients travel through your body 266

Glucose regulation 267

What’s for Dinner? Making Wise, Nutritious Food Choices 268

Carbohydrates: The culprits of your food cravings 268

Proteins: You break down their chains; they build yours 269

Fats: You need some, but don’t overdo it 270

Minerals and vitamins: The fuel for your enzymes 272

Exploring the Human Excretory System 272

Getting to know your large intestine and how it eliminates solid wastes 273

Flowing through how your kidneys remove nitrogenous wastes 274

Chapter 17: Fighting Back: Human Defenses 277

Microbial Encounters of the Best and Worst Kinds 278

Good bacteria: Health helpers 278

Bad bacteria: Health harmers 278

Viruses: Conquering one cell at a time 279

Built to Protect You: Innate Human Defenses 279

Your body’s best blockers: Skin and mucous membranes 280

Tiny but mighty: Molecular defenders 281

Microbe seeker-outers: Dendritic cells 282

Invader eaters, big and small: Phagocytes 282

Damage control: Inflammation 283

A fluid filterer: The lymphatic system 283

Learning a Lesson: Adaptive Human Defenses 285

Commanders-in-chief: Helper T cells 285

Soldiers on the march: B cells and antibodies 286

Cellular assassins: Cytotoxic T cells 287

Giving Your Defenses a Helping Hand 288

Killing bacteria with antibiotics 288

Fighting viruses with antiviral drugs 290

Getting ahead of the game with vaccines 290

Aging and Ailing: Changes in the Immune System 292

Chapter 18: The Nervous and Endocrine Systems, Messengers Extraordinaire 295

The Many Intricacies of Nervous Systems 296

Distinguishing between the CNS and PNS 296

Branching out to study neuron structure 298

Processing signals with the three types of neurons 298

Acting without thinking 300

What a Sensation! The Brain and the Five Senses 300

Oooh, that smell: Olfaction 301

Mmm, mmm, good: Taste 302

Now hear this: Sound 303

Seeing is believing: Sight 303

A touchy-feely subject: Touch 304

Following the Path of Nerve Impulses 305

Traveling from one end to the other 305

Jumping the gap between neurons 307

The Endocrine System: All Hormones Are Not Raging 309

Seeing how hormones work 310

Surveying the general functions of hormones 311

Chapter 19: Reproduction 101: Making More Animals 313

This Budding’s for You: Asexual Reproduction 313

The Ins and Outs of Sexual Reproduction 314

Getting to know gametes 315

Mating rituals and other preparations for the big event 317

How humans mate 321

How Other Animals Do It 325

Developing New Humans 327

From single cells to blastocyst 327

Go, go, embryo 329

Fetal development and birth 329

Differentiation, Development, and Determination 330

The ability to become any type of cell 331

The factors that affect differentiation and development 332

Gender differentiation in humans 333

Part 5: It’s Not Easy Being Green: Plant Structure and Function 337

Chapter 20: Living the Life of a Plant 339

Presenting Plant Structure 339

Plant tissues 340

The types of plants 340

Herbaceous versus woody stems 342

Obtaining Matter and Energy for Growth 344

Going It Alone: Asexual Reproduction 345

Mixing Sperm and Eggs: Sexual Reproduction 345

The life of a plant 346

The parts of a flower 347

How pollination and fertilization occur 349

From zygote to embryo 350

A little protection for the embryo: Seeds 350

Chapter 21: Probing into Plant Physiology 351

How Nutrients, Fluids, and Sugars Move through Plants 351

Taking an inventory of the nutrients plants need to survive 352

Transporting water and other nutrients from the ground up 353

Translocating sugars upward and downward through the phloem 355

Controlling water loss 357

Sending Signals with Plant Hormones 358

Part 6: The Part of Tens 361

Chapter 22: Ten Great Biology Discoveries 363

Seeing the Unseen 363

Discovering Penicillin, the First Antibiotic 364

Protecting People from Smallpox 364

Defining DNA Structure 364

Finding and Fighting Defective Genes 365

Discovering Modern Genetic Principles 365

Evolving the Theory of Natural Selection 365

Formulating Cell Theory 366

Amplifying DNA with PCR 366

Editing DNA with CRISPR 366

Chapter 23: Ten Ways Biology Affects Your Life 369

Keeping You Fed 369

Putting Microbial Enzymes to Work 370

Designing Genes 370

Powering the Planet 370

Causing and Treating Infectious Disease 371

Staying Alive 371

Providing You with Clean Water 372

Changing Physically and Mentally 372

Creating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria 373

Facing Extinction 373

Index 375