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Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Edexcel AS Revision
Unit 2:
2: Development, Plants & the
Topic 3: The Voice of the Genome
2.3.2 & 2.3.3

Prokaryotic Cell

Prokaryotic Organelles:
Ribosomes. Same function as eukaryotic cells (protein synthesis),
but are smaller (70s rather than 80s).
Nuclear Zone. The region of the cytoplasm that contains DNA.
There is no nuclear membrane.
DNA. Always circular, and not in chromosome form.
Plasmid. Very small circles of DNA, containing non-esential genes.
Can be exchanged between different bacterial cells.

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Cell membrane. made of phospholipids and proteins, like eukaryotic

Mesosome. Tightly-folded region of the cell membrane containing all
the proteins required for respiration and photosynthesis.
Cell Wall. DIFFERENT from plant cell wall. Made of murein (a
protein). There are two kinds of cell wall, which can be distinguished
by a Gram stain:
A: Gram positive bacteria have a thick cell wall and stain
B: Gram negative bacteria have a thin cell wall with an outer
lipid layer and stain pink.
Capsule (or Slime Layer). Thick polysaccharide layer outside of the
cell wall. Used for:
1. Sticking cells together
2. As a food reserve
3. As protection against desiccation (drying out) and chemicals,
and as protection against phagocytosis (being broken down by
a white blood cell).
Flagellum. A rotating tail used for propulsion.
Eukaryotic Cell

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Endoplasmic Reticulum. Site of protein folding (see 2.3.4)

Ribosome. Site of protein synthesis
Nucleus. DNA store & site of mRNA synthesis.
Golgi apparatus. Site of protein folding and packaging (see 2.3.4)
Centriole. Makes spindle protein, which pulls chromosomes apart
during cell division
Vesicle. Bubble of membrane, used to transport materials around a
cell and between cells
Lysosome. A vesicle filled with digestive enzymes. Protects against
bacterial attack and removes cell debris.
Cell membrane. Made of phospholipid and protein, controls
movement in / out of the cell
Mitochondrion. Site of respiration
Chloroplast. Site of photosynthesis

Prokaryotic Cells

Eukaryotic cells

Small cells (< 5 mm)

Larger cells (> 10 mm)

Always unicellular

Often multicellular

No nucleus or any membranebound organelles

Always have nucleus and other

membrane-bound organelles

DNA is circular, without proteins

DNA is linear and associated

with proteins to form chromatin

Ribosomes are small (70S)

Ribosomes are large (80S)

No cytoskeleton

Has a cytoskeleton

Cell division is by binary fission

Cell division is by mitosis or


Reproduction is always asexual

Reproduction is asexual or sexual

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Amino acids are stuck together in the correct order during
translation. This take place using ribosomes, which are therefore
the site of protein synthesis.
After synthesis, proteins are put into the rER, which folds primary
proteins into their specific secondary and tertiary forms. 20 and 30
proteins are packaged into vesicles and sent to the Golgi
In the Golgi, 30 proteins are stuck together to form completed 40
proteins. They are packaged into large secretory vesicles, which
bud off the Golgi and go the cell membrane for exocytosis. The
Golgi also makes lysosomes.

Tissue: a group of specialized cells, which all carry out the same
Organ: a group of different tissues.
Although every cell contains the entire library of genes, each tissue
only expresses a select few of them. This is because, as cells
become specialized, they progressively switch off genes. This is
called cell differentiation.
The Cell Cycle


G1 Phase:

Growth phase
Approximately 40% of cell cycle

S Phase:

DNA replication occurs

Approximately 45% of cell cycle

G2 Phase:

Preparation for mitosis

Organelles replicate


Cell divides
Approximately 10% of cell cycle


Cell physically splits

Approximately 5% of cell cycle

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes


Written by Tim Filtness

Stage is: Prophase

DNA coils up onto chromosomes

Centriole divides
Centrioles move to cell poles
Nuclear envelope disappears

Stage is: Metaphase


Chromosomes move to equator

Spindle attaches to centromeres
Centrioles split
Chromatids separate

Stage is: Anaphase

1. Chromatids separate completely
2. New nuclear envelope grows

Stage is: Telophase

1. Cytokinesis occurs
2. Cells separate

Stage is: Interphase

As above (G1, S & G2)

Underlined comments = definition of stage end

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Dig up your Mitosis Core Practical notes in the
Practical Handbook
Mitosis produces genetically identical daughter cells, whereas
Meiosis produces genetically dissimilar gametes. The variation in
gametes comes from;
1. Random fusion of gametes
Each individual makes many gametes, each of which is
genetically different. This creates a huge number of
potentially different embryos as which two gametes are
selected for fertilization is largely random.
If the number of different gametes made by both parents is
n, therefore the total number of possibilities is n2, which is
2. Independent assortment
During meiosis, chromosomes pair up at the equator (they
dont at during mitosis). Whichever way up the pair are aligned
will affect the combination of alleles in the gamete.

aa bb ab

aa BB aB
AA bb Ab

3. Crossing Over
When the chromosomes are paired up during metaphase
sections of DNA are swapped between chromatids (this is
called crossing over). This means that alleles which were
previously linked with others (i.e. in set combinations of
alleles) become unlinked, thus increasing the potential
number of combinations of alleles

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness


A Mammalian Ovum:
Follicle cells (from ovary)
Zona Pellucida
Lipid droplets
Cell membrane

Part of Ovum

Adapted for
Contains only one copy of each chromosome

Follicle cells

Secrete chemicals that secrete the acrosome



Very large so fertilised cell can divide immediately

Lipid droplets

Source of energy for future growth and division

Zona pelludica

Hardens once sperm has entered ova, stops further

cells entering.


Cause the zona pellucida to harden once a sperms

nucleus has entered the ova.

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

A Mammalian Sperm:

Part of Ovum

Adapted for
Contains only one copy of each chromosome


Detachable. Contains the nucleus.


Contains lots of mitochondria, which make ATP


Made from motor proteins, which use ATP to propel

the sperm forwards


An adapted lysosome on the top of the sperms

head. The acrosome swells and bursts when the
sperm embeds in the zona pellucida (zona pellucida
releases chemicals that trigger this). The enzymes
in the acrosome digest the follicle cells and the
zona pellucida and allow the cell membranes to fuse.


Very little cytoplasm, which means cells are small

and therefore can be released in large numbers.

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Fertilization is the successful fusion of two haploid gametes to
create a diploid cell (a zygote). The zygote then divides rapidly by
mitosis to become an embryo.
Mammalian fertilisation:
1. The sperm is attracted to the ovum by hormones released
by the follicle cells surrounding the ovum
2. When the sperm reaches the ovum it embeds its head in
the zona pellucida, triggering the acrosome reaction
3. The acrosome swells and bursts, releasing proteolytic
4. The enzymes digest a hole into the ovum
5. Sperm membrane fuses with ovum membrane and the
sperm nucleus enters the ovum by endocytosis
6. Lysosomes in the ovum cause the zona pellucida to harden
once the sperms nucleus has entered the ovum, stopping
further sperm from penetrating the ovum.
Plant fertilisation:
1. The pollen grain (male gamete) lands on the stigma
2. Pollen grain grows a pollen tube down into the stigma. The
pollen nucleus is at the tip of the tube
3. The pollen tube enters the ovule
4. The pollen tube reaches an ovum and the nucleus enters it
by endocytosis forming a zygote.
5. Many pollen grains may fertilize many ova

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Stem Cell: an undifferentiated cell (i.e. a cell that can grow into
more than one type of cell).
Totipotent Cell: an undifferentiated cell capable of growing into a
new embryo
Pluripotent Cell: an undifferentiated cell capable of growing into
any cell, but not a new embryo
Multipotent Cell: an undifferentiated cell capable of growing into a
few types of cell
Stem Cells are very useful because they can be used to grow
replacement organs. However, it is not yet possible to get a
differentiated cell to revert to being a stem cell. Therefore, stem
cells tend to be harvested from embryos, which causes serious
ethical problems.
You might like to consider;

Where do the embyos come from?

Is an embryo a human?
Do embryos have the same rights as adult humans?
Can we use animal embryos (or human-animal hybrids) instead?
The utilitarian argument
The right to life (for both adult and ambryo)

Dig up your Plant Culture Core Practical notes in the
Practical Handbook
Cells become specialized (or differentiated) by progressively
switching genes off. This is sometimes done by adding methyl
groups to the gene, which stop it being opened in transcription. The

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

gene is then permanently inactivated in the adult cell, but also in

any daughter cell produced through mitosis.
In addition, some genes may require a transcription factor to
activate them i.e. the gene is normally off, but will be transcribed in
the presence of a TF. Usually the TF is a hormone (e.g. Steroids think about their effects), but sometimes it can be an
environmental factor (e.g, the presence of lactose in E.coli see
text book)

The phenotype is a product of the genotype and the environment.
For some genes the environment has minimal effect (e.g. blood
group), but for the majority the environment plays a significant
role. You need to know 4 examples
Animal Hair Colour:
Some animals have fur colour that is a product of the environment
e.g. Siamese cats should have black fur all over as their genotype
codes for the enzyme tyrosinase that converts tyrosine into
melanin (which is a dark protein remind yourself of Albimism in
1.2.16). However, the enzyme is denatured by body heat, so only the
cold parts of the animal are black (tail, ears etc) and teh rest is
Human Height:
Is controlled by many genes, each with a range of alleles, making it
an example of polygenetic inheritance (i.e. controlled by lots of
genes). In addition, diet has a huge effect on height.
Mono Amine Oxidase A (MAOA):
MAOA enzymes break down neurotransmitters released by nerves
in the brain. High levels of MAOA have been linked to risk-taking
and aggression, whereas low levels of MAOA can cause depression

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

and Parkinsons disease. Mutations of MAOA are the genetic

component to these conditions, but environmental factors such as
stress levels also have a profound effect.
A tumour is a ball of cells dividing quicker than they should.
Tumours that split apart and spread around the body (metastasis)
are the most dangerous (malignant)
The rate of cell division is controlled by;
Oncogenes speed cell cycle up
Tumour Supressor Genes slow cell cycle down
Mutations in either of these genes can cause tumours. Although
mutations occur naturally, the environment can have an effect e.g.
radiation, free radicals, carcinogen chemicals all increase the
mutation rate.

Discontinuous variation: phenotypes appear in discrete categories
(i.e. blood group). Usually controlled by one gene where the
environment has little effect.
Continuous variation: phenotypes appear in a range of categories
(i.e. height). Usually controlled by many gene (polygenes) where the
environment has a large effect.

End of Topic 3

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Edexcel AS Revision

Unit 2:
2: Development, Plants & the
Topic 4: Biodiversity & Natural Resources
Animal and plant cells are both eukaryotic cells, they have common
eukaruyotic features. However, plant cells also have some features
unique to them.

Cell wall: A structure made from cellulose fibrils and pectin crosslinks. It strengthens the cell and allows it to be turgid without
Amyloplast: A membrane-bound organelle full of starch (starch
Chloroplast: Site of photosynthesis.
Vacuole: A water-filled membrane-bound organelle that helps a cell
maintain turgor pressure

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Tonoplast: The vacuolar membrane

Plasmodesmata: A junction between adjacent cells where the
cytoplasm of one cell joins the cytoplasm of the other. Used for
intercellular communication
Pit: A thin patch in the cell wall where plasmodesmata can form or
have formed previously
Middle lamella: A pectin glue attaching one cell wall to another

Plant cells are strong because they are wrapped in a protective
layer of cellulose. This forms the cell wall.
Cellulose is a polysaccharide made from glucose monomers.
Alternate glucose molecules flip over in the chain, forming
hydrogen bonds between adjacent cellulose chains. Because
cellulose has no side branches the chains can be packed closely
which increases the strength of the hydrogen bonds further.

Alternate glucose molecules flipping over

Individual cellulose chains are packaged together into microfibrils.
The microfibrils wind around each other forming cellulose fibres.
The cell wall is build from layers of these fibres.

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Primary cell wall: First to form, cellulose fibres laid down in the
same direction
Secondary cell wall: Forms later, cellulose fibres laid down at right
angles to those in the primary wall. Provides much greater strength.
Collenchyma: found around the outside of the stem have their cell
walls further strengthened with more cellulose (secondary
thickening) to form thick supporting cells.
Sclerenchyma: in larger plants strings of collenchyma begin to lay
down the protein lignin in their cell walls to form very strong fibres
within the stem. These tend to form as a cap to the vascular
bundles in the stem. Sometimes the sclerenchyma can be extracted
by humans for making into rope (e.g. hessian) or clothes (e.g. flax or



Location in stem
Inside of vascular
Middle of vascular
Cap on vascular
Inside epidermis

Carries water and minerals up
the stem
Carries sucrose up & down the
Support for the stem
Lesser support for the stem

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Plant materials are used for three main reasons;
1. Sustainable - they are not a limited resource as, although
they are used, they can be replanted.
2. Carbon neutral - do not contribute to rising CO2 levels
(although they may give off CO2, replanting uses the CO2
up again).
3. Biodegrade.
Plant materials are used as fibres (wood, cotton etc) as they have a
high tensile strength and can be used in clothing, building industry
etc. Oils from plants can be used as biofuels and starch can be used
in packaging, glues, absorbants as well as for food.


 Regular rings of lignin

 Wide lumen
 No end walls (continuous
 Location at inside of VB


Irregular layers of lignin

Tiny lumen
End walls with pits
Location as cap to VB
Presence of sclerids

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Dig up your Celery Fibres Core Practical notes in the
Practical Handbook

Function in plant
Used to make amino acids, which the plant uses to form
Used to make pectin for cell walls
Central ion in the chlorophyll molecule.

Plants also need water for;


Photosynthesis (~5%)
Cooling via transpiration (~90%)
Transport of substances (e.g. sucrose, mineral ions)
Maintain turgor
Solvent for chemical reactions
Gamete distribution

Dig up your Plant Mineral Deficiencies Core Practical notes
in the Practical Handbook
Dig up your Mint / Garlic Core Practical notes in the
Practical Handbook
William Withering experimented with foxglove extract as a cure
for dropsy (oedema caused by congestive heart failure). He gave
the drug in increasing amounts until the patient became ill, then he

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

worked out a dose based on that. He also killed someone. His

studies, though important are NOT ethical and do not follow the
basis of modern clinical trials
Clinical Trial Process:

Clinical Trials
Phase 1

Clinical Trials
Phase 2

Clinical Trials
Phase 3

Purpose of stage
1. Proposed drug is tested in a lab with cultured cells to
see the general effects of the drug
2. Proposed drug is given to animals to see the effects on
a whole animal. Any side effects away from target cells
are noted.
1. A small group of healthy volunteers are given different
doses of the drug. They are told what the drug does
2. The distribution, absorbance rate, metabolism &
excretion profile of the drug are assessed.
3. The effects of the different doses are assessed to try
and determine the optimum dose
4. An independent organisation (UK Medicines Control
Agency) assesses whether it is appropriate to move to
Phase 2
1. A small group of people with the disease are given the
2. Studies are very similar to Phase 1
3. The optimum dose is worked out
1. A large group of people with the disease are given
optimum doses of the drug
2. The patients are either given the drug or a placebo in a
double-blind test
3. The results are analysed
4. If the drug has had a significant positive effect in the
treatment of the disease it is put forward to licensing

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Biodiversity: The number of species, the number of individuals
within those species and the number and variety of alleles those
Endemic: Where a species is found only within a particular niche in a
particular ecosystem.
Species richness: is a measure of biodiversity where the number
and variety of species in an area is recorded. Can be measured in
different ways;
Indicator species i.e. the presence of specific species (usually
those least tolerant to pollution / climate change etc) are
used to indicate the health of the ecosystem.
Population of keystone species i.e. the population of crucial
species (usually those providing prey for the rest) are used to
measure the health of the ecosystem
Quantitative sampling a direct way of sampling the
biodiversity using quadrats
Capture / recapture a direct way of working out populations
of species.
Genetic diversity: the number of different alleles within the gene
pool. The greater the diversity, the more likely the species is to
survive environmental change or disease.

A niche is the specific part of the ecosystem in which a species
lives and any adaptations the species has that make it successful
there. Adaptations can be;
Behavioural e.g. Iguana on the Galapagos islands dive for seaweed they are the only lizards to venture into the sea.

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Physiological e.g. some Ethiopians have evolved a different shaped

haemoglobin molecule that resembles foetal Hb. It loads O2 much
more efficiently at altitude (see end of Topic 1)
Anatomical e.g. the Fiddler crab
has two very different claws. One
is huge and is used for fiddling
i.e. signalling for a mate. The
disappointingly, used for feeding.

Darwin made two observations and a conclusion;
O1: More offspring are born than can survive
O2: There is variation within a species
Conclusion: There is a struggle for survival only the fittest can
survive and reproduce. This is Natural Selection
In order for NS to lead to evolution a few extra conditions are
1. Isolation (see table below) so no flow of alleles
2. Small population & inbreeding
3. Mutation (generates new fitter alleles)
4. Mutations accumulate within population
5. Eventually the isolated population cannot reproduce with
the originals. At this point a new species has formed

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Method of isolation
Ecological isolation
Temporal isolation
Behavioural isolation
Physical incompatibility
Hybrid inviability
Hybrid sterility

Written by Tim Filtness

The species occupy different parts of the
The species exist in the same area, but
reproduce at different times
The species exist in the same area, but do not
respond to each others courtship behaviour
Species coexist, but there are physical
reasons which stop them from copulating
In some species, hybrids are produces but
they do not survive long enough to breed
Hybrids survive to reproductive age, but
cannot reproduce

Allopatric speciation occurs when species are far from each other
Sympatric speciation occurs when species are close to each other

The taxonomic classification system follows a hierarchy of groups
(the 5 Kingdoms at the top, individual species at the bottom) in
which all species are categorised according to their anatomy.
However, this is not necessarily the best approach as species with
similar anatomies (e.g. dolphin and shark) are not necessarily closely
related. A better system is based on molecular phylogeny i.e.
comparing the molecules species are comprised of. The best
molecule to examine is DNA.
A recent proposal along this line (the three domain theory) argues
that all organisms evolved into three broad groups;
Bacteria prokaryotes, fundamentally different structures
Archaea those species that exhibit characteristics of both (i.e.
early eukaryotes and their descendents)
Eukaryotes eukaryotes, fundamentally different structures

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Seed banks and Zoos help because they allow us to preserve
biodiversity, reintroduce species, set up captive breeding
programmes, educate people about ecology and generate money
from tourism.
However, be aware that some species (those that have a lot of
leaned behaviours e.g. tigers) do not tend to fare well on
reintroduction programmes.

Cohesion-Tension Theory of Transpiration

This is not mentioned on the syllabus, but it is in the text book. The
prudent man learns it anyway
Epidermis: A single layer of cells often with long extensions called
root hairs, which increase the surface area enormously. A single
plant may have 1010 root hairs.

Cortex: A thick layer of packing cells often containing stored

Stele: contains the Xylem, Phloem & Cambium and is protected by a
layer of endodermis cells



Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Endodermis: A single layer of tightly-packed cells containing a

waterproof layer called the casparian strip. This prevents the
movement of water between the cells and helps waterproof the
stele keeping water in.

wall membrane

Water moves through the root by two paths:


Symplast pathway (10%)

Apoplast pathway (90%)

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Written by Tim Filtness

Symplast pathway: water moves from cytoplasm to cytoplasm

through plasmodesmata (holes in the cell walls, where cell
membranes of adjacent cells are joined - so there are no
membranes for the polar water molecules to cross).
Apoplast pathway: water moves from cell wall to cell wall. The cell
walls are quite thick and very open, so water can easily diffuse
through cell walls without having to cross any cell membranes.
However the Apoplast pathway stops at the endodermis because of
the waterproof casparian strip. At this point water has to cross
the cell membrane and enter the symplast pathway. This effectively
water-proofs the Stele, which stops water loss higher up the root.
Root Pressure:
Water moves from high water potential to low water potential by
osmosis. However, most soils are dry (especially in the desert) and
the water potential of the soil is low. Plant cells are full of water, so
why doesnt water leave the plant cells and enter the soil?
The answer is that plant roots take up lots of ions from the soil,
which lowers the water concentration of their cytoplasm enough for
water to enter the root by osmosis, even if the soil if very dry. The
ions are taken up by active transport, by proteins in the cell
membrane of the root hairs. This uses up lots of energy (uses lots
of ATP).
Because of the low water potential root cells become very turgid.
This creates a small pressure, which forces water up the xylem in
the stem. This is called Root Pressure. In small plants root pressure
is very important for transpiration. In woody plants it does not
have a significant effect.

Edexcel AS Biology Revision Notes

Xylem Tissue

Written by Tim Filtness

small xylem vessels


Xylem tissue is composed of dead cells

joined together to form long empty

large xylem vessel

Different kinds of cells form wide and

narrow tubes, and the end cells walls are
either full of holes, or are absent

Transverse Section (T.S.)

thick cell wall

empty interior

Longitudinal Section (L.S.)


Before death the cells form thick cell

walls containing lignin, which is laid down
in rings, giving these cells a very
characteristic appearance under the

of end wall
end walls

Lignin makes the xylem vessels very strong, so that they dont collapse under
pressure, and they also make woody stems strong. The xylem vessels form
continuous pipes from the roots to the leaves. Water can move up through these
pipes at a rate of 8m h-1, and can reach a height of over 100m.
Water molecules are polar and bind to each other by hydrogen
bonds forming a strong column of water (for its diameter the
column is stronger than steel!)

1. Water evaporates out of the leaves and causes low

pressure in the leaves.

2. This creates a suction (or tension) force which sucks water

up the stem

3. Because water molecules are polar they stick to each other

and the entire column of water in the Xylem moves
4. This mechanism is called the cohesion-tension theory.

End of Topic 4