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BIOLOGY

Topic I: Cells and Molecules of Life

Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education


(HKDSE)

Notes & Exercises


Chapter 1 to 6

ANDY WONG S.T.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................ 3
1. What is biology? ............................................................................................. 3
2. Characteristics of organisms ........................................................................ 3
3. Scientific method ............................................................................................ 3
CHAPTER 2 THE CELL AND THE BASIC UNIT OF LIFE................................................................ 4
1. Chemicals of life ............................................................................................. 4
2. Discovery of cells ........................................................................................... 4
3. Basic structure of a cell ................................................................................. 6
4. Levels of organization.................................................................................... 7
5. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells .................................................................. 8
CHAPTER 3 CELL ACTIVITIES ..................................................................................................... 9
1. Cell membrane ............................................................................................... 9
2. Movement of substances across cell membrane ...................................... 9
3. Metabolism .................................................................................................... 11
4. Enzymes ........................................................................................................ 11
CHAPTER 4 CELL CYCLE AND DIVISION................................................................................... 13
1. Chromosomes............................................................................................... 13
2. Mitotic cell division ....................................................................................... 13
3. Meiotic cell division ...................................................................................... 15
*CHAPTER 5 PHOTOSYNTHESIS ............................................................................................... 17
Sites and requirements of photosynthesis .................................................... 17
Photochemical reactions .................................................................................. 17
Carbon fixation: Calvin cycle ........................................................................... 17
Factors affecting the rate of photosynthesis ................................................. 17
*CHAPTER 6 RESPIRATION ....................................................................................................... 18
Sites of respiration ............................................................................................ 18
Glycolysis ........................................................................................................... 18
Aerobic respiration ............................................................................................ 18
Anaerobic respiration ....................................................................................... 18
REFERENCES ............................................................................................................................... 19

*These topics are not required in biology part of HKDSE Combined Science curriculum.

Topic I

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
1. What is biology?
Biology is the study of living things (organisms). It can be divided into different branches including
cytology, anatomy, molecular biology, taxonomy, ecology, etc.

2. Characteristics of organisms
All organisms show the following seven common characteristics:
(1) Nutrition: Organisms need to obtain food for energy and maintain life.
(2) Respiration: Organisms can break down food to supply energy for body activities.
(3) Movement: Animals can move from place to place. Plants usually move by growing.
(4) Irritability: Organisms can respond to changes in the environment.
(5) Excretion: Organisms can remove waste produced from chemical reactions inside their bodies.
(6) Reproduction: Organisms can produce offspring to allow the species to continue through time.
(7) Growth: Organisms increase in size and complexity.

3. Scientific method
Scientists study biology by using scientific methods. These usually involve:
(1) making observations,
(2) proposing a hypothesis,
(3) doing experiments to test the hypothesis,
(4) drawing a conclusion to support or reject the hypothesis. (The hypothesis may become a theory with
increased evidence and acceptance in the scientific community.)

CHAPTER 2
THE CELL AND THE BASIC UNIT OF LIFE
1. Chemicals of life
A. Inorganic chemical constituents
i) Water acts as a basic solvent, medium for chemical reactions/transport
acts as a cooling agent (help regulate body temperature by sweating/transpiration)
acts as a reactant, e.g. in photosynthesis/digestion of food
gives shape and support, provides buoyancy.
ii) Inorganic ions keep organisms healthy, e.g. nitrate, magnesium, calcium, iron, etc.
B. Organic chemical constituents (biomolecules)
i) Carbohydrates provide energy, e.g. glucose
storage of energy in plants (starch)
make up plant cell walls (cellulose).
ii) Lipids act as energy reserve (fats and oils)
make up cell membranes and membranes of organelles (phospholipids).
iii) Proteins fibrous proteins build up body structures
globular proteins, e.g. enzymes and antibodies.
iv) Nucleic acids deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) carries important genetic information
controls cell activities
determines features of organisms.

2. Discovery of cells
After the invention of microscopes, more details of the cells are observed. Cells are said to be
discovered by Robert Hooke in 1665.
In 1839, Schleiden and Schwann proposed the cell theory, which states that:
(1) all organisms are made up of one or more cells;
(2) the cell is the basic unit of life;
The modified cell theory also states that all cells come from pre-existing cells.

Topic I

A. Light microscopes

Source: Certificate Biology: New Mastering Basic Concepts

It is the most commonly used compound microscope in the school laboratory. The image observed is
always inverted.
Magnification
Area of specimen observed
Details of image
Brightness of image

Low

High

Larger
(more cells)
Less
Brighter

Smaller
(fewer cells)
More
Dimmer

Total magnification of the microscope


= magnification of the eyepiece

magnification of the objective

When preparing temporary mounts, specimens are often stained with methylene blue solution (for
animal cells) or iodine solution (for plant cells) easier to be observed.
B. Electron microscopes
i) Transmission electron microscopes: produces 2-dimensional images
ii) Scanning electron microscopes: produces 3-dimensional images
*All electron microscopes give black and white images, not coloured ones.
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3. Basic structure of a cell


A. Animal cell

i) Cell membrane thin and flexible membrane


differentially permeable
controls movement of substances into and out of the cell.
ii) Cytoplasm jelly-like substance made up of water, proteins, and etc.
holds organelles, e.g. nucleus, mitochondria)
cellular chemical reactions take place here.
iii) Nucleus surrounded by nuclear membrane
contains DNA and controls all cell activities.
iv) Endoplasmic reticulum a network of interconnected membrane-bounded sacs
forms a link between cytoplasm and nuclear membrane
rough ER has ribosomes attached to its surface
sites for protein synthesis
smooth ER is responsible for synthesis and transport of lipids.
v) Mitochondrion rod-shaped, bounded by a double membrane
inner membrane is folded into finger-like projections
main site for energy release in respiration.
vi) Vacuole a sac containing water and dissolved substances, e.g. food
bounded by a differentially permeable membrane.
Most animal cells have a few or even no vacuoles; some do not have a nucleus, e.g. red blood cells.

Topic I

B. Plant cell

The basic structure of plant cells is similar to that of animal cells, except:
i) Cell wall thick, rigid layer made up of cellulose
fully permeable
protects, supports and gives shape to plant cells.
ii) Vacuole usually large and located at the centre of the cell
contains cell sap (a solution of dissolved substance, e.g. food, pigments)
gives support to the plant if full of water.
iii) Chloroplast bounded by a double membrane
contains a green pigment chlorophyll
absorbs light energy for photosynthesis.
Some plant cells do not have chloroplasts, e.g. epidermal cells; some do not have a nucleus, e.g. xylem
cells.

4. Levels of organization
In multicellular organisms, cells are specialized to perform functions. They work together at three levels
of organization:
cell

tissue

organ

system

organism

5. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells


Prokaryotic cell

Eukaryotic cell

Size

Usually smaller

Usually larger

Nuclear membrane

No (no true nucleus)

Yes (true nucleus present)

Genetic materials (DNA)

Lying free in the cytoplasm

Enclosed in the nucleus

Organelles with double


membrane

No

Yes

Endoplasmic reticulum

No (ribosomes lie freely)

Yes

Cell wall

May be present or absent,


but no cellulose

Yes (plants)/ No (animals),


cellulose present

Topic I

CHAPTER 3
CELL ACTIVITIES
1. Cell membrane
In 1972, Singer and Nicolson proposed the fluid mosaic model to explain the structure of cell membrane,
which states that the cell membrane is mainly made up of phospholipids and proteins.
Properties and structure of cell membrane
i) Cell membrane is differentially permeable
phospholipids have a water-loving (hydrophilic) head phosphate group, and a water-repelling
(hydrophobic) tail fatty acids.
Phospholipid

= glycerol

+ 2 fatty acids

+ phosphate group

They are arranged tail-to-tail in the phospholipid bilayer, which is


only permeable to lipid-soluble substances (e.g. alcohol) and simple/small molecules (e.g.
oxygen, carbon dioxide),
impermeable to water molecules, water-soluble substances (e.g. glucose, certain proteins) and
certain ions.
some proteins act as channels for transporting water-soluble substances (channel proteins);
some act as carriers for active transport (carrier proteins).
Large molecules (or those do not fit the shape of the carrier proteins) cannot pass through the cell
membrane.
ii) Cell membrane is flexible. It can change its shape and seal back on itself during growth and cell
division
phospholipids and some proteins can move laterally (has a fluid nature).
iii) Cell membrane is strong enough to support the contents of the cell
proteins are interspersed among phospholipids in a mosaic pattern.
iv) Some proteins (1) help receive chemicals, then stimulate certain cell activities; (2) some act as
enzymes to speed up reactions, (3) some have carbohydrate molecules attached to form glycoproteins
for recognition purpose, e.g. when white blood cells identifying foreign cells and destroy them.

2. Movement of substances across cell membrane


I. Diffusion net movement of particles down a concentration gradient
not requiring additional energy
diffusion rate is higher for (1) a steeper concentration gradient, (2) a higher temperature,
(3) smaller/lipid-soluble particles.
importance: (1) transport of oxygen, small/lipid-soluble molecules into the cell,
(2) transport of carbon dioxide/waste out of the cell,
(3) transport of simple ions across cell membrane,
(4) distribution of substances throughout cytoplasm.
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II. Osmosis diffusion of water molecules across a differentially permeable membrane


net movement of water molecules from less concentrated to more concentrated solution
(i.e. from higher water potential to lower water potential).
importance: (1) entry and exit of water into and out of the cell (especially in plants),
(2) transporting water through living tissues.

Source: Certificate Biology: New Mastering Basic Concepts

*Pure water has the highest water potential (zero). Solute particles would lower the water potential of a solution
(negative value). [Water potential is measured in Pascal (Pa).]

III. Active transport movement of substances (usually) against a concentration gradient with the use
of energy
occurs at carrier proteins (for living cells only)
cyanide/lack of oxygen might slow down/stop active transport
importance: (1) transport of minerals in plants,
(2) transport of substances along concentration gradient at a higher
speed (e.g. glucose).
IV. Phagocytosis uptake of large particles with the use of energy
process:
(1) forms a pit (or pseudopodia) at the cell membrane to engulf particle,
(2) particle enclosed in a vacuole,
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Topic I

(3) enzymes released to digest particle,


(4) digested products diffuse to cytoplasm.
importance: (1) nutrition of some single-celled organisms, e.g. Amoeba,
(2) body defence against diseases, e.g. phagocytes engulf pathogens.

3. Metabolism
Metabolism refers to all chemical reactions that take place in an organism. It consists of:
(1) Catabolism: all breaking-down reactions, where complex molecules are broken down into simpler
ones to release energy (catabolic process).
(2) Anabolism: all building-up reactions, where complex molecules are synthesized from simpler ones
with the use of energy (anabolic process).

4. Enzymes
A. Properties and roles of enzymes
(1) They are biological catalysts. They speed up reactions by lowering energy barrier, and without
being changed or used up.
(2) They can be reused. Enzyme combines temporarily with substrates in a reaction.
(3) They are required in a relatively small amount.
(4) They are proteins, so they are easily affected by temperature or pH values. Most of them are
denatured at high temperatures and extreme pH values.
(5) Their actions are specific. Each enzyme only catalyses one type of reaction.
specificity of enzymes can be explained by lock-and-key hypothesis
the active site (with specific shape) of an enzyme combines the substrate molecule(s) to form
an enzyme-substrate complex (greatly lowers the energy barrier), which then breaks down to
form product(s). The enzyme is released in its original form.
B. Factors affecting the rate of enzymatic reactions
i) Temperature at low temperatures, enzymes are inactive, and reaction rate is low.
as temperature rises, molecules have more kinetic energy, it thus increases the
chance of collision to form an enzyme-substrate complex; reaction rate increases.
reaction rate reaches its maximum at the optimum temperature.
as temperature continues to rise, reaction rate decreases as enzymes are
denatured.
ii) pH value enzymes work within a narrow range of pH values (different enzymes have different
working ranges).
they work best at its optimum pH.

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Source: Certificate Biology: New Mastering Basic Concepts

iii) Inhibitors rate of enzymatic reactions decreases by certain chemicals.


competitive inhibitors: chemicals with similar structures to substrate(s), they
compete with substrate(s) for active sites, thus lowering the chance to form an
enzyme-substrate complex
their effects can be reduced if substrate concentration is higher.
non-competitive inhibitors: attach to other parts of enzyme and changes the structure
of active sites, e.g. cyanide/heavy metal ions such as mercury ions
No effect on reaction rate even if substrate concentration is higher.

C. Applications of enzymes:
Biological washing powder, meat tenderizers, making bread, stonewashed jeans, leather industries, etc.

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Topic I

CHAPTER 4
CELL CYCLE AND DIVISION
1. Chromosomes
Cells are capable of forming new cells in a process called cell division, which is a process that a cell
(parent cell) divides to form two or more new cells (daughter cells). This process is important for
growth and reproduction of organisms.
Definitions of some terms are as follows:
i) DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) carries genetic information, present in the nucleus of a cell
double helix structure (two chains twist around each other)
coils around some special proteins to form a chromosome.
ii) Chromosomes usually appear as a thin thread called chromatin
cannot be seen under a microscope.
when a cell prepares to divide, genetic material replicates
chromosomes become thicker and shorter and are more clearly seen
each chromosome is seen to consist of two threads called chromatids joined at
a point called centromere.
iii) Homologous chromosomes a pair of chromosomes of the same shape and size
the one comes from male parent is called paternal chromosome
the one comes from female parent is called maternal chromosome.
iv) Diploid (2n) cell a cell that has two sets of chromosomes
formed by mitotic division.
v) Haploid (n) cell a cell that has one set of chromosomes
formed by meiotic division.
The number of chromosomes varies with each species of organisms, but there is no relationship between
the size or complexity of an organism and its chromosome number.
Species
Chromosome
pairs (number)

Roundworm

Mouse

Human

Potato

Dog

Shrimp

1 (2)

20 (40)

23 (46)

24 (48)

39 (78)

127 (254)

2. Mitotic cell division


The cell cycle refers to a sequence of events happened in a cell between one mitotic cell division and the
next. It consists of two stages:
(1) Cell growth: it includes first growth phase (G1), synthesis phase (S) and second growth phase (G2).
(2) Mitotic cell division: starts with nuclear division and followed by cytoplasmic division.
In each cycle, mitosis only accounts for about 10% of cycle time. Different types of cells also have
different cycle time. (e.g. skin cells: ~24 hours; liver cells: ~1 year).
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I. Cell growth (a.k.a. interphase) a stage to prepare for mitotic cell divisions
first growth phase (G1): new organelles (e.g. mitochondria) and proteins are synthesized
synthesis phase (S): DNA molecules are replicated
second growth phase (G2): energy stores increase and cell grows to its maximum size.
II. Mitotic cell division nuclear division is called mitosis, which consists of 4 main stages
retain chromosome number after division
2 identical diploid nuclei are formed
cytoplasm then divides into two equal halves (this process is called cytokinesis)
cell membrane constricts inwards to form 2 new cells (for animal cells)
cell plate (made up of new cell walls and cell membranes) forms between two
nuclei, grows outwards from the centre to form 2 new cells (for plant cells)
Stages

Process

Interphase

DNA replicates (still appears as invisible


chromatin)

(cell growth)

Prophase

Chromosomes become thicker and shorter


(visible), each consists of 2 chromatids
Nuclear membrane disintegrates

Metaphase

Chromosomes line up in the middle


(equator) of the cell

Anaphase

Chromatids of each chromosome separate


and move to opposite poles of the cell
Cytoplasm starts to divide

Telophase

New nuclear membranes form around each


set of chromosomes
Chromosomes uncoil to become invisible
chromatin again.

Figures

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Topic I

Mitotic cell division produces daughter cells that are exact copies of parent cells. It is important for
growth, repair, and asexual reproduction (e.g. bacteria).

3. Meiotic cell division


Meiotic cell division reduces chromosome number by half to give 4 genetically different haploid
daughter cells. It mainly occurs in sex organs, e.g. testes and ovaries (humans), anther and ovaries
(plants).
Meiotic cell division consists of 2 divisions, each starts with nuclear division (called meiosis) and
followed by cytoplasmic division.
Stages

Process

Interphase

DNA replicates (still appears as invisible


chromatin)

(cell growth)

Prophase I
(first meiotic cell
division)

Figures

Chromosomes become thicker and shorter


(visible), each consists of 2 chromatids
Members of each pairs of homologous
chromosomes pair up
Nuclear membrane disintegrates

Metaphase I

Homologous pairs line up in the middle


(equator) of the cell

Anaphase I

The 2 members of each homologous pair


separate and move to opposite poles of the cell
Cytoplasm starts to divide

Telophase I

New nuclear membranes form around each


set of chromosomes

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Prophase II
(second meiotic cell
division)

Nuclear membrane disintegrates again

Metaphase II

Chromosomes line up in the middle of the cell

Anaphase II

Chromatids of each chromosome separates


and move to opposite poles of the cell
Cytoplasm starts to divide

Telophase II

New nuclear membranes form around each


set of chromosomes
4 haploid daughter cells are formed, each
having one member of each homologous pair
Chromosomes uncoil to become invisible
chromatin again.

Source: New Senior Secondary: Mastering Biology

Meiotic cell division produces haploid daughter cells called gametes (sex cells) for sexual reproduction.
When male and female gametes fuse at fertilization to form zygote, diploid number of chromosome can
be restored.
Radom distribution and independent assortment of chromosomes produces gametes with different genetic
combinations. This causes genetic variations within a species which increases the chance of survival as
environment changes.

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Topic I

*CHAPTER 5
PHOTOSYNTHESIS
Sites and requirements of photosynthesis

Photochemical reactions

Carbon fixation: Calvin cycle

Factors affecting the rate of photosynthesis

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*CHAPTER 6
RESPIRATION
Sites of respiration

Glycolysis

Aerobic respiration

Anaerobic respiration

Applications

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Topic I

REFERENCES

Pan K.C. (2003). Certificate Biology: New Mastering Basic Concepts, Book 1.
Pan K.C., Cheung L.M. (2004). Certificate Biology: New Mastering Basic Concepts, Book 3.
Yung H.W., Ho K.M., Ho Y.K., Tam K.H., Tong L.P. (2009). New Senior Secondary: Mastering Biology, Book 2.
Yung H.W., Ho K.M., Ho Y.K., Tam K.H., Tong L.P. (2010). New Senior Secondary: Mastering Biology, Book 3.

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