Terms & Concepts
absorption (L. absorbere, to swallow down) The movement of water and substances dissolved in water into a cell, tissue, or organism.
acid Any substance that dissociates to form H+ ions when dissolved in water. Having a pH value less than 7.
acoelomate (Gr. a, not + koiloma, cavity) A bilaterally symmetrical animal not possessing a body cavity, such as a flatworm.
actin (Gr. actis, ray) One of the two major proteins that make up myofilaments (the other is myosin). It provides the cell with mechanical support and plays major roles in determining cell shape and cell movement. action potential A single nerve impulse. A transient all-or-none reversal of the electrical potential across a neuron membrane. Because it can activate nearby voltage-sensitive channels, an action potential propagates along a nerve cell.
activation energy The energy a molecule must acquire to undergo a specific chemical reaction.
activator A regulatory protein that binds to the DNA and makes it more accessible for transcription.
active transport The transport of a solute across a membrane by protein carrier molecules to a region of higher concentration by the expenditure of chemical energy. One of the most important functions of any cell.
adaptation (L. adaptare, to fit) Any peculiarity of structure, physiology, or behavior that promotes the likelihood of an organism’s survival and reproduction in a particular environment.
adenosine triphosphate (ATP) A molecule composed of ribose, adenine, and a triphosphate group. ATP is the chief energy currency of all cells. Cells focus all of their energy resources on the manufacture of ATP from ADP and phosphate, which requires the cell to supply 7 kilocalories of energy obtained from photosynthesis or from electrons stripped from foodstuffs to form 1 mole of ATP Cells then use this ATP to drive endergonic reactions.
adhesion (L. adhaerere, to stick to) The molecular attraction exerted between the surfaces of unlike bodies in contact, as water molecules to the walls of the narrow tubes that occur in plants.
aerobic (Gr. aer, air + bios, life) Oxygen-requiring.
allele (Gr. allelon, of one another) One of two or more alternative forms of a gene.
allele frequency The relative proportion of a particular allele among individuals of a population. Not equivalent to gene frequency, although the two terms are sometimes confused.
allosteric interaction (Gr. allos, other + stereos, shape) The change in shape that occurs when an activator or repressor binds to an enzyme. These changes result when specific, small molecules bind to the enzyme, molecules that are not substrates of that enzyme.
alternation of generations A reproductive life cycle in which the multicellular diploid phase produces spores that give rise to the multicellular haploid phase and the multicellular haploid phase produces gametes that fuse to give rise to the zygote. The zygote is the first cell of the multicellular diploid phase.
alveolus, pl alveoli (L. alveus, a small cavity) One of the many small, thin-walled air sacs within the lungs in which the bronchioles terminate.
amniotic egg An egg that is isolated and protected from the environment by a more or less impervious shell. The shell protects the embryo from drying out, nourishes it, and enables it to develop outside of water.
anaerobic (Gr. an, without + aer, air + bios, life) Any process that can occur without oxygen. Includes glycolysis and fermentation. Anaerobic organisms can live without free oxygen.
anaphase In mitosis and meiosis II, the stage initiated by the separation of sister chromatids, during which the daughter chromosomes move to opposite poles of the cell; in meiosis I, marked by separation of replicated homologous chromosomes.
angiosperms The flowering plants, one of five phyla of seed plants. In angiosperms, the ovules at the time of pollination are completely enclosed by tissues.
anterior (L. ante, before) Located before or toward the front. In animals, the head end of an organism.
anther (Gr. anthos, flower) The part of the stamen of a flower that bears the pollen.
antibody (Gr. anti, against) A protein substance produced by a B cell lymphocyte in response to a foreign substance (antigen) and released into the bloodstream. Binding to the antigen, antibodies mark them for destruction by other elements of the immune system.
anticodon The three-nucleotide sequence of a tRNA molecule that is complementary to, and base pairs with, an amino acid-specifying codon in mRNA.
antigen (Gr. anti, against + genos, origin) A foreign substance, usually a protein, that stimulates lymphocytes to proliferate and secrete specific antibodies that bind to the foreign substance, labeling it as foreign and destined for destruction.
apical meristem (L. apex, top + Gr. meristos, divided) In vascular plants, the growing point at the tip of the root or stem.
aposematic coloration An ecological strategy of some organisms that “advertise” their poisonous nature by the use of bright colors.
appendicular skeleton (L. appendicula, a small appendage) The skeleton of the limbs of the human body containing 126 bones.
archaea A group of prokaryotes that are among the most primitive still in existence, characterized by the absence of peptidoglycan in their cell walls, a feature that distinguishes them from bacteria.
asexual Reproducing without forming gametes. Asexual reproduction does not involve sex. Its outstanding characteristic is that an individual offspring is genetically identical to its parent.
association neuron A nerve cell found only in the CNS that acts as a functional link between sensory neurons and motor neurons. Also called interneuron.
atom (Gr. atomos, indivisible) A core (nucleus) of protons and neutrons surrounded by an orbiting cloud of electrons. The chemical behavior of an atom is largely determined by the distribution of its electrons, particularly the number of electrons in its outermost level.
atomic number The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom. In an atom that does not bear an electric charge (that is, one that is not an ion), the atomic number is also equal to the number of electrons. autonomic nervous system (Gr. autos, self + nomos, law) The motor pathways that carry commands from the central nervous system to regulate the glands and nonskeletal muscles of the body. Also called the involuntary nervous system.
autosome (Gr. autos, self + soma, body) Any of the 22 pairs of human chromosomes that are similar in size and morphology in both males and females.
autotroph (Gr. autos, self + trophos, feeder) An organism that can harvest light energy from the sun or from the oxidation of inorganic compounds to make organic molecules.
axial skeleton The skeleton of the head and trunk of the human body containing 80 bones.
axon (Gr., axle) A process extending out from a neuron that conducts impulses away from the cell body.
bacterium, pl bacteria (Gr. bakterion, dim. of baktron, a staff) The simplest cellular organism. Its cell is smaller and prokaryotic in structure, and it lacks internal organization.
basal body In eukaryotic cells that contain flagella or cilia, a form of centriole that anchors each flagellum.
base Any substance that combines with H+ ions thereby reducing the H+ ion concentration of a solution. Having a pH value above 7.
Batesian mimicry After Henry W. Bates, English naturalist. A situation in which a palatable or nontoxic organism resembles another kind of organism that is distasteful or toxic. Both species exhibit warning coloration. B cell A lymphocyte that recognizes invading pathogens much as T cells do, but instead of attacking the pathogens directly, it marks them with antibodies for destruction by the nonspecific body defenses.
bilateral symmetry (L. bi, two + lateris, side; Gr. symmetria, symmetry) A body form in which the right and left halves of an organism are approximate mirror images of each other.
binary fission (L. binarius, consisting of two things or parts + fissus, split) Asexual reproduction of a cell by division into two equal, or nearly equal, parts. Bacteria divide by binary fission.
binomial system (L. bi, twice, two + Gr. nomos, usage, law) A system of nomenclature that uses two words. The first names the genus, and the second designates the species.
biomass (Gr. bios, life + maza, lump or mass) The total weight of all of the organisms living in an ecosystem.
biome (Gr. bios, life + -oma, mass, group) A major terrestrial assemblage of plants, animals, and microorganisms that occur over wide geographical areas and have distinct characteristics. The largest ecological unit. buffer A substance that takes up or releases hydrogen ions (H+) to maintain the pH within a certain range.
calorie (L. calor, heat) The amount of energy in the form of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius.
calyx (Gr. kalyx, a husk, cup) The sepals collectively. The outermost flower whorl.
cancer Unrestrained invasive cell growth. A tumor or cell mass resulting from uncontrollable cell division.
capillary (L. capillaris, hairlike) A blood vessel with a very small diameter. Blood exchanges gases and metabolites across capillary walls. Capillaries join the end of an arteriole to the beginning of a venule.
carbohydrate (L. carbo, charcoal + hydro, water) An organic compound consisting of a chain or ring of carbon atoms to which hydrogen and oxygen atoms are attached in a ratio of approximately 1:2:1. A compound of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen having the generalized formula (CH2O)n where n is the number of carbon atoms.
carcinogen (Gr. karkinos, cancer + -gen) Any cancer-causing agent.
cardiovascular system (Gr. kardia, heart + L. vasculum, vessel) The blood circulatory system and the heart that pumps it. Collectively, the blood, heart, and blood vessels.
carpel (Gr. karpos, fruit) A leaflike organ in angiosperms that encloses one or more ovules.
carrying capacity The maximum population size that a habitat can support.
catabolism (Gr. katabole, throwing down) A process in which complex molecules are broken down into simpler ones.
catalysis (Gr. katalysis, dissolution + lyein, to loosen) The enzyme-mediated process in which the subunits of polymers are positioned so that their bonds undergo chemical reactions.
catalyst (Gr. kata, down + lysis, a loosening) A general term for a substance that speeds up a specific chemical reaction by lowering the energy required to activate or start the reaction. An enzyme is a biological catalyst. cell (L. cella, a chamber or small room) The smallest unit of life. The basic organizational unit of all organisms. Composed of a nuclear region containing the hereditary apparatus within a larger volume called the cytoplasm bounded by a lipid membrane.
cell cycle The repeating sequence of growth and division through which cells pass each generation.
cellular respiration The process in which the energy stored in a glucose molecule is released by oxidation. Hydrogen atoms are lost by glucose and gained by oxygen.
central nervous system The brain and spinal cord, the site of information processing and control within the nervous system.
centromere (Gr. kentron, center + meros, a part) A constricted region of the chromosome joining two sister chromatids, to which the kinetochore is attached.
chemical bond The force holding two atoms together. The force can result from the attraction of opposite charges (ionic bond) or from the sharing of one or more pairs of electrons (a covalent bond). chemiosmosis The cellular process responsible for almost all of the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) harvested from food and for all the ATP produced by photosynthesis.
chemoautotroph An autotrophic bacterium that uses chemical energy released by specific inorganic reactions to power its life processes, including the synthesis of organic molecules.
chiasma, pL chiasmata (Gr. a cross) In meiosis, the points of crossing over where portions of chromosomes have been exchanged during synapsis. A chiasma appears as an X-shaped structure under a light microscope.
chloroplast (Gr. chloros, green + plastos, molded) A cell-like organelle present in algae and plants that contains chlorophyll (and usually other pigments) and is the site of photosynthesis.
chromatid (Gr. chroma, color + L. -id, daughters of) One of two daughter strands of a duplicated chromosome that is joined by a single centromere.
chromatin (Gr. chroma, color) The complex of DNA and proteins of which eukaryotic chromosomes are composed.
chromosome (Gr. chroma, color + soma, body) The vehicle by which hereditary information is physically transmitted from one generation to the next. In a eukaryotic cell, long threads of DNA that are associated with protein and that contain hereditary information.
cilium, pL cilia (L. eyelash) Refers to flagella, which are numerous and organized in dense rows. Cilia propel cells through water. In human tissue, they move water or mucus over the tissue surface. cladistics A taxonomic technique used for creating hierarchies of organisms based on derived characters that represent true phylogenetic relationship and descent.
class A taxonomic category ranking below a phylum (division) and above an order.
clone (Gr. klon, twig) A line of cells, all of which have arisen from the same single cell by mitotic division. One of a population of individuals derived by asexual reproduction from a single ancestor. One of a population of genetically identical individuals.
codominance In genetics, a situation in which the effects of both alleles at a particular locus are apparent in the phenotype of the heterozygote.
codon (L. code) The basic unit of the genetic code. A sequence of three adjacent nucleotides in DNA or mRNA that codes for one amino acid or for polypeptide termination.
coelom (Gr. koilos, a hollow) A body cavity formed between layers of mesoderm and in which the digestive tract and other internal organs are suspended.
coenzyme A cofactor of an enzyme that is a nonprotein organic molecule.
coevolution (L. co-, together + e-, out + volvere, to fill) A term that describes the long-term evolutionary adjustment of one group of organisms to another.
commensalism (L. cum, together with + mensa, table) A symbiotic relationship in which one species benefits while the other neither benefits nor is harmed.
community (L. communitas, community, fellowship) The populations of different species that live together and interact in a particular place.
competition Interaction between individuals for the same scarce resources. Intraspecific competition is competition between individuals of a single species. Interspecific competition is competition between individuals of different species.
competitive exclusion The hypothesis that if two species are competing with one another for the same limited resource in the same place, one will be able to use that resource more efficiently than the other and eventually will drive that second species to extinction locally.
complement system The chemical defense of a vertebrate body that consists of a battery of proteins that insert in bacterial and fungal cells, causing holes that destroy the cells.
concentration gradient The concentration difference of a substance as a function of distance. In a cell, a greater concentration of its molecules in one region than in another.
condensation The coiling of the chromosomes into more and more tightly compacted bodies begun during the G2 phase of the cell cycle.
conjugation (L. conjugate, to yoke together) An unusual mode of reproduction in unicellular organisms in which genetic material is exchanged between individuals through tubes connecting them during conjugation.
consumer In ecology, a heterotroph that derives its energy from living or freshly killed organisms or parts thereof. Primary consumers are herbivores; secondary consumers are carnivores or parasites. cortex (L. bark) In vascular plants, the primary ground tissue of a stem or root, bounded externally by the epidermis and internally by the central cylinder of vascular tissue. In animals, the outer, as opposed to the inner, part of an organ, as in the adrenal, kidney, and cerebral cortexes.
cotyledon (Gr. kotyledon, a cup-shaped hollow) Seed leaf. Monocot embryos have one cotyledon, and dicots have two.
countercurrent flow In organisms, the passage of heat or of molecules (such as oxygen, water, or sodium ions) from one circulation path to another moving in the opposite direction. Because the flow of the two paths is in opposite directions, a concentration difference always exists between the two channels, facilitating transfer.
covalent bond (L. co-, together + valate, to be strong) A chemical bond formed by the sharing of one or more pairs of electrons.
crossing over An essential element of meiosis occurring during prophase when nonsister chromatids exchange portions of DNA strands.
cuticle (L. cutis, skin) A very thin film covering the outer skin of many plants.
cytokinesis (Gr. kytos, hollow vessel + kinesis, movement) The C phase of cell division in which the cell itself divides, creating two daughter cells.
cytoplasm (Gr. kytos, hollow vessel + plasma, anything molded) A semifluid matrix that occupies the volume between the nuclear region and the cell membrane. It contains the sugars, amino acids, proteins, and organelles (in eukaryotes) with which the cell carries out its everyday activities of growth and reproduction.
cytoskeleton (Gr. kytos, hollow vessel + skeleton, a dried body) In the cytoplasm of all eukaryotic cells, a network of protein fibers that supports the shape of the cell and anchors organelles, such as the nucleus, to fixed locations.
deciduous (L. decidete, to fall off) In vascular plants, shedding all the leaves at a certain season.
dehydration reaction Water-losing. The process in which a hydroxyl (OH) group is removed from one subunit of a polymer and a hydrogen (H) group is removed from the other subunit, linking the subunits together and forming a water molecule as a by-product.
demography (Gr. demos, people + gtaphein, to draw) The statistical study of population. The measurement of people or, by extension, of the characteristics of people.
density The number of individuals in a population in a given area.
deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) The basic storage vehicle or central plan of heredity information. It is stored as a sequence of nucleotides in a linear nucleotide polymer. Two of the polymers wind around each other like the outside and inside rails of a circular staircase.
depolarization The movement of ions across a cell membrane that wipes out locally an electrical potential difference.
deuterostome (Gr. deutetos, second + stoma, mouth) An animal in whose embryonic development the anus forms from or near the blastopore, and the mouth forms later on another part of the blastula. Also characterized by radial cleavage. dicot Short for dicotyledon; a class of flowering plants generally characterized by having two cotyledons, netlike veins, and flower parts in fours or fives.
diffusion (L. diffundete, to pour out) The net movement of molecules to regions of lower concentration as a result of random, spontaneous molecular motions. The process tends to distribute molecules uniformly.
dihybrid (Gr. dis, twice + L. hibtida, mixed offspring) An individual heterozygous for two genes.
dioecious (Gr. di, two + eikos, house) Having male and female flowers on separate plants of the same species.
diploid (Gr. diploos, double + eidos, form) A cell, tissue, or individual with a double set of chromosomes.
directional selection A form of selection in which selection acts to eliminate one extreme from an array of phenotypes. Thus, the genes promoting this extreme become less frequent in the population.
disaccharide (Gr. dis, twice + sakchaton, sugar) A sugar formed by linking two monosaccharide molecules together. Sucrose (table sugar) is a disaccharide formed by linking a molecule of glucose to a molecule of fructose.
disruptive selection A form of selection in which selection acts to eliminate rather than favor the intermediate type.
diurnal (L. diutnalis, day) Active during the day.
division Traditionally, a major taxonomic group of the plant kingdom comparable to a phylum of the animal kingdom. Today divisions are called phyla.
dominant allele An allele that dictates the appearance of heterozygotes. One allele is said to be dominant over another if an individual heterozygous for that allele has the same appearance as an individual homozygous for it.
dorsal (L. dotsum, the back) Toward the back, or upper surface. Opposite of ventral.
double fertilization A process unique to the angiosperms, in which one sperm nucleus fertilizes the egg and the second one fuses with the polar nuclei. These two events result in the formation of the zygote and the primary endosperm nucleus, respectively.
ecdysis (Gr. ekdysis, stripping off) The shedding of the outer covering or skin of certain animals. Especially the shedding of the exoskeleton by arthropods.
ecology (Gr. oikos, house + logos, word)
The study of the relationships of organisms with one another and with their environment.
ecosystem (Gr. oikos, house + systema, that which is put together) A community, together with the nonliving factors with which it interacts.
ectoderm (Gr. ecto, outside + detma, skin) One of three embryonic germ layers that forms in the gastrula; giving rise to the outer epithelium and to nerve tissue.
ectothermic Referring to animals whose body temperature is regulated by their behavior or their surroundings.
electron A subatomic particle with a negative electrical charge. The negative charge of one electron exactly balances the positive charge of one proton. Electrons orbit the atom’s positively charged nucleus and determine its chemical properties.
electron transport chain A collective term describing the series of membrane-associated electron carriers embedded in the inner mitochondrial membrane. It puts the electrons harvested from the oxidation of glucose to work driving proton-pumping channels.
electron transport system A collective term describing the series of membrane-associated electron carriers embedded in the thylakoid membrane of the chloroplast. It puts the electrons harvested from water molecules and energized by photons of light to work driving proton-pumping channels.
element A substance that cannot be separated into different substances by ordinary chemical methods.
emergent properties Novel properties in the hierarchy of life that were not present at the simpler levels of organization.
endergonic (Gr. endon, within + ergon, work) Reactions in which the products contain more energy than the reactants and require an input of usable energy from an outside source before they can proceed. These reactions are not spontaneous.
endocrine gland (Gr. endon, within + krinein, to separate) A ductless gland producing hormonal secretions that pass directly into the bloodstream or lymph.
endocrine system The dozen or so major endocrine glands of a vertebrate.
endocytosis (Gr. endon, within + kytos, cell) The process by which the edges of plasma membranes fuse together and form an enclosed chamber called a vesicle. It involves the incorporation of a portion of an exterior medium into the cytoplasm of the cell by capturing it within the vesicle.
endoderm (Gr. endon, outside + derma, skin) One of three embryonic germ layers that forms in the gastrula; giving rise to the epithelium that lines internal organs and most of the digestive and respiratory tracts.
endoplasmic reticulum (ER) (L. endoplasmic, within the cytoplasm + reticulum, little net) An extensive network of membrane compartments within a eukaryotic cell; attached ribosomes synthesize proteins to be exported.
endoskeleton (Gr. endon, within + skeletos, hard) In vertebrates, an internal scaffold of bone or cartilage to which muscles are attached.
endosperm (Gr. endon, within + sperma, seed) A nutritive tissue characteristic of the seeds of angiosperms that develops from the union of a male nucleus and the polar nuclei of the embryo sac. The endosperm is either digested by the growing embryo or retained in the mature seed to nourish the germinating seedling.
endosymbiotic (Gr. endon, within + bios, life) theory A theory that proposes how eukaryotic cells arose from large prokaryotic cells that engulfed smaller ones of a different species. The smaller cells were not consumed but continued to live and function within the larger host cell. Organelles that are believed to have entered larger cells in this way are mitochondria and chloroplasts.
endothermic The ability of animals to maintain an elevated body temperature using their metabolism.
energy The capacity to bring about change, to do work.
enhancer A site of regulatory protein binding on the DNA molecule distant from the promoter and start site for a gene’s transcription.
entropy (Gr. en, in + tropos, change in manner) A measure of the disorder of a system. A measure of energy that has become so randomized and uniform in a system that the energy is no longer available to do work. enzyme (Gr. enzymos, leavened; from en, in + zyme, leaven) A protein capable of speeding up specific chemical reactions by lowering the energy required to activate or start the reaction but that remains unaltered in the process.
epidermis (Gr. epi, on or over + derma, skin) The outermost layer of cells. In vertebrates, the nonvascular external layer of skin of ectodermal origin; in invertebrates, a single layer of ectodermal epithelium; in plants, the flattened, skinlike outer layer of cells.
epistasis (Gr. epistasis, a standing still) An interaction between the products of two genes in which one modifies the phenotypic expression produced by the other.
epithelium (Gr. epi, on + thele, nipple) A thin layer of cells forming a tissue that covers the internal and external surfaces of the body. Simple epithelium consists of the membranes that line the lungs and major body cavities and that are a single cell layer thick. Stratified epithelium (the skin or epidermis) is composed of more complex epithelial cells that are several cell layers thick.
erythrocyte (Gr. erythros, red + kytos, hollow vessel) A red blood cell, the carrier of hemoglobin. Erythrocytes act as the transporters of oxygen in the vertebrate body. During the process of their maturation in mammals, they lose their nuclei and mitochondria, and their endoplasmic reticulum is reabsorbed.
estrus (L. oestrus, frenzy) The period of maximum female sexual receptivity. Associated with ovulation of the egg. Being “in heat.”
estuary (L. aestus, tide) A partly enclosed body of water, such as those that often form at river mouths and in coastal bays, where the salinity is intermediate between that of saltwater and freshwater.
ethology (Gr. ethos, habit or custom + logos, discourse) The study of patterns of animal behavior in nature.
euchromatin (Gr. eu, true + chroma, color) Chromatin that is extended except during cell division, from which RNA is transcribed.
eukaryote (Gr. eu, true + karyon, kernel)
A cell that possesses membrane-bounded organelles, most notably a cell nucleus, and chromosomes whose DNA is associated with proteins; an organism composed of such cells. The appearance of eukaryotes marks a major event in the evolution of life, as all organisms on earth other than bacteria and archaea are eukaryotes.
eumetazoan (Gr. eu, true + meta, with + zoion, animal) A “true animal.” An animal with a definite shape and symmetry and nearly always distinct tissues.
eutrophic (Gr. eutrophos, thriving) Refers to a lake in which an abundant supply of minerals and organic matter exists.
evaporation The escape of water molecules from the liquid to the gas phase at the surface of a body of water.
evolution (L. evolvere, to unfold) Genetic change in a population of organisms over time (generations). Darwin proposed that natural selection was the mechanism of evolution.
exergonic (L. ex, out + Gr. ergon, work) Any reaction that produces products that contain less free energy than that possessed by the original reactants and that tends to proceed spontaneously.
exocytosis (Gr. ex, out of + kytos, cell) The extrusion of material from a cell by discharging it from vesicles at the cell surface. The reverse of endocytosis.
exoskeleton (Gr. exo, outside + skeletos, hard) An external hard shell that encases a body. In arthropods, comprised mainly of chitin.
experiment The test of a hypothesis. An experiment that tests one or more alternative hypotheses and those that are demonstrated to be inconsistent with experimental observation are rejected.
facilitated diffusion The transport of molecules across a membrane by a carrier protein in the direction of lowest concentration.
family A taxonomic group ranking below an order and above a genus.
feedback inhibition A regulatory mechanism in which a biochemical pathway is regulated by the amount of the product that the pathway produces.
fermentation (L. fermentum, ferment) A catabolic process in which the final electron acceptor is an organic molecule.
fertilization (L. ferre, to bear) The union of male and female gametes to form a zygote.
fitness The genetic contribution of an individual to succeeding generations, relative to the contributions of other individuals in the population.
flagellum, pl flagella (L. flagellum, whip) A fine, long, threadlike organelle protruding from the surface of a cell. In bacteria, a single protein fiber capable of rotary motion that propels the cell through the water. In eukaryotes, an array of microtubules with a characteristic internal 9 + 2 microtubule structure that is capable of vibratory but not rotary motion. Used in locomotion and feeding. Common in protists and motile gametes. A cilium is a short flagellum. food web The food relationships within a community. A diagram of who eats whom.
founder effect The effect by which rare alleles and combinations of alleles may be enhanced in new populations.
frequency In statistics, defined as the proportion of individuals in a certain category, relative to the total number of individuals being considered.
fruit In angiosperms, a mature, ripened ovary (or group of ovaries) containing the seeds.
gamete (Gr. wife) A haploid reproductive cell. Upon fertilization, its nucleus fuses with that of another gamete of the opposite sex. The resulting diploid cell (zygote) may develop into a new diploid individual, or in some protists and fungi, may undergo meiosis to form haploid somatic cells.
gametophyte (Gr. gamete, wife + phyton, plant) In plants, the haploid (n), gamete-producing generation, which alternates with the diploid (2n) sporophyte.
ganglion, pl ganglia (Gr. a swelling) A group of nerve cells forming a nerve center in the peripheral nervous system.
gastrulation The inward movement of certain cell groups from the surface of the blastula.
gene (Gr. genos, birth, race) The basic unit of heredity. A sequence of DNA nucleotides on a chromosome that encodes a polypeptide or RNA molecule and so determines the nature of an individual’s inherited traits. gene expression The process in which an RNA copy of each active gene is made, and the RNA copy directs the sequential assembly of a chain of amino acids at a ribosome.
gene frequency The frequency with which individuals in a population possess a particular gene. Often confused with allele frequency.
genetic code The “language” of the genes. The mRNA codons specific for the 20 common amino acids constitute the genetic code.
genetic drift Random fluctuations in allele frequencies in a small population over time.
genetic map A diagram showing the relative positions of genes.
genetics (Gr. genos, birth, race) The study of the way in which an individual’s traits are transmitted from one generation to the next.
genome (Gr. genos, offspring + L. oma, abstract group) The genetic information of an organism.
genomics The study of genomes as opposed to individual genes.
genotype (Gr. genos, offspring + typos, form) The total set of genes present in the cells of an organism. Also used to refer to the set of alleles at a single gene locus. genus, pL genera (L. race) A taxonomic group that ranks below a family and above a species.
germination (L. germinare, to sprout) The resumption of growth and development by a spore or seed.
gland (L. glandis, acorn) Any of several organs in the body, such as exocrine or endocrine, that secrete substances for use in the body. Glands are composed of epithelial tissue.
glomerulus (L. a little ball) A network of capillaries in a vertebrate kidney, whose walls act as a filtration device.
glycolysis (Gr. glykys, sweet + lyein, to loosen) The anaerobic breakdown of glucose; this enzyme-catalyzed process yields two molecules of pyruvate with a net of two molecules of ATP.
golgi complex Flattened stacks of membrane compartments that collect, package, and distribute molecules made in the endoplasmic reticulum.
gravitropism (L. gravis, heavy + tropes, turning) The response of a plant to gravity, which generally causes shoots to grow up and roots to grow down.
greenhouse effect The process in which carbon dioxide and certain other gases, such as methane, that occur in the earth’s atmosphere transmit radiant energy from the sun but trap the longer wavelengths of infrared light, or heat, and prevent them from radiating into space.
guard cells Pairs of specialized epidermal cells that surround a stoma. When the guard cells are turgid, the stoma is open; when they are flaccid, it is closed.
gymnosperm (Gr. gymnos, naked + sperma, seed) A seed plant with seeds not enclosed in an ovary. The conifers are the most familiar group.
habitat (L. habitare, to inhabit) The place where individuals of a species live. half-life The length of time it takes for half of a radioactive substance to decay.
haploid (Gr. haploos, single + eidos, form) The gametes of a cell or an individual with only one set of chromosomes.
Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium After G. H. Hardy, English mathematician, and G. Weinberg, German physician. A mathematical description of the fact that the relative frequencies of two or more alleles in a population do not change because of Mendelian segregation. Allele and genotype frequencies remain constant in a random-mating population in the absence of inbreeding, selection, or other evolutionary forces. Usually stated as: If the frequency of allele A is p and the frequency of allele a is q, then the genotype frequencies after one generation of random mating will always be (p + q)2 = p2+ 2pq + q2.
Haversian canal After Clopton Havers, English anatomist. Narrow channels that run parallel to the length of a bone and contain blood vessels and nerve cells.
helper T cell A class of white blood cells that initiates both the cell-mediated immune response and the humoral immune response; helper T cells are the targets of the AIDS virus (HIV).
hemoglobin (Gr. haima, blood + L. globus, a ball) A globular protein in vertebrate red blood cells and in the plasma of many invertebrates that carries oxygen and carbon dioxide.
herbivore (L. herba, grass + vorare, to devour) Any organism that eats only plants.
heredity (L. heredis, heir) The transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring.
heterochromatin (Gr. heteros, different + chroma, color) That portion of a eukaryotic chromosome that remains permanently condensed and therefore is not transcribed into RNA. Most centromere regions are heterochromatic.
heterokaryon (Gr. heteros, other + karyon, kernel) A fungal hypha that has two or more genetically distinct types of nuclei.
heterotroph (Gr. heteros, other + trophos, feeder) An organism that does not have the ability to produce its own food. See also autotroph.
heterozygote (Gr. heteros, other + zygotos, a pair) A diploid individual carrying two different alleles of a gene on its two homologous chromosomes.
hierarchical (Gr. hieros, sacred + archos, leader) Refers to a system of classification in which successively smaller units of classification are included within one another.
histone (Gr. histos, tissue) A complex of small, very basic polypeptides rich in the amino acids arginine and lysine. A basic part of chromosomes, histones form the core around which DNA is wrapped.
homeostasis (Gr. homeos, similar + stasis, standing) The maintaining of a relatively stable internal physiological environment in an organism or steady-state equilibrium in a population or ecosystem.
homeotherm (Gr. homeo, similar + therme, heat) An organism, such as a bird or mammal, capable of maintaining a stable body temperature.
hominid (L. homo, man) Human beings and their direct ancestors. A member of the family Hominidae. Homo sapiens is the only living member.
homologous chromosome (Gr. homologia, agreement) One of the two nearly identical versions of each chromosome. Chromosomes that associate in pairs in the first stage of meiosis. In diploid cells, one chromosome of a pair that carries equivalent genes.
homology (Gr. homologia, agreement)
A condition in which the similarity between two structures or functions is indicative of a common evolutionary origin.
homozygote (Gr. homos, same or similar + zygotos, a pair) A diploid individual whose two copies of a gene are the same.
An individual carrying identical alleles on both homologous chromosomes is said to be homozygous for that gene.
hormone (Gr. hormaein, to excite) A chemical messenger, often a steroid or peptide, produced in a small quantity in one part of an organism and then transported to another part of the organism, where it brings about a physiological response.
hybrid (L. hybrida, the offspring of a tame sow and a wild boar) A plant or animal that results from the crossing of dissimilar parents.
hybridization The mating of unlike parents of different taxa.
hydrogen bond A molecular force formed by the attraction of the partial positive charge of one hydrogen atom of a water molecule with the partial negative charge of the oxygen atom of another.
hydrolysis reaction (Gr. hydro, water + lyse, break) The process of tearing down a polymer by adding a molecule of water.
A hydrogen is attached to one subunit and a hydroxyl to the other, which breaks the covalent bond. Essentially the reverse of a dehydration reaction.
hydrophilic (Gr. hydro, water + philic, loving) Describes polar molecules, which form hydrogen bonds with water and therefore are soluble in water.
hydrophobic (Gr. hydro, water + phobos, hating) Describes nonpolar molecules, which do not form hydrogen bonds with water and therefore are not soluble in water.
hydroskeleton (Gr. hydro, water + skeletos, hard) The skeleton of most soft-bodied invertebrates that have neither an internal nor an external skeleton. They use the relative incompressibility of the water within their bodies as a kind of skeleton.
hypertonic (Gr. hyper, above + tonos, tension) A cell that contains a higher concentration of solutes than its surrounding solution.
hypha, pl hyphae (Gr. hyphe, web) A filament of a fungus. A mass of hyphae comprises a mycelium.
hypothalamus (Gr. hypo, under + thalamos, inner room) The region of the brain under the thalamus that controls temperature, hunger, and thirst and that produces hormones that influence the pituitary gland.
hypothesis (Gr. hypo, under + tithenai, to put) A proposal that might be true. No hypothesis is ever proven correct. All hypotheses are provisional—proposals that are retained for the time being as useful but that may be rejected in the future if found to be inconsistent with new information. A hypothesis that stands the test of time—often tested and never rejected—is called a theory.
hypotonic (Gr. hypo, under + tonos, tension) A solution surrounding a cell that has a lower concentration of solutes than does the cell.
inbreeding The breeding of genetically related plants or animals. In plants, inbreeding results from self-pollination. In animals, inbreeding results from matings between relatives. Inbreeding tends to increase homozygosity.
incomplete dominance The ability of two alleles to produce a heterozygous phenotype that is different from either homozygous phenotype.
independent assortment Mendel’s second law: The principle that segregation of alternative alleles at one locus into gametes is independent of the segregation of alleles at other loci. Only true for gene loci located on different chromosomes or those so far apart on one chromosome that crossing over is very frequent between the loci.
industrial melanism (Gr. melas, black) The evolutionary process in which a population of initially light-colored organisms becomes a population of dark organisms as a result of natural selection.
inflammatory response (L. inflammare, to flame) A generalized nonspecific response to infection that acts to clear an infected area of infecting microbes and dead tissue cells so that tissue repair can begin. integument (L. integumentum, covering)
The natural outer covering layers of an animal. Develops from the ectoderm.
interneuron A nerve cell found only in the CNS that acts as a functional link between sensory neurons and motor neurons. Also called association neuron.
internode The region of a plant stem between nodes where stems and leaves attach.
interoception (L. interus, inner + Eng. [re]ceptive) The sensing of information that relates to the body itself, its internal condition, and its position.
interphase That portion of the cell cycle preceding mitosis. It includes the phase, when cells grow, the S phase, when a replica of the genome is synthesized, and a G2 phase, when preparations are made for genomic separation.
intron (L. intra, within) A segment of DNA transcribed into mRNA but removed before translation. These untranslated regions make up the bulk of most eukaryotic genes.
ion An atom in which the number of electrons does not equal the number of protons. An ion carries an electrical charge.
ionic bond A chemical bond formed between ions as a result of the attraction of opposite electrical charges.
ionizing radiation High-energy radiation, such as X rays and gamma rays.
isolating mechanisms Mechanisms that prevent genetic exchange between individuals of different populations or species.
isotonic (Gr. isos, equal + tonos, tension) A cell with the same concentration of solutes as its environment.
isotope (Gr. isos, equal + topos, place) An atom that has the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons.
joint The part of a vertebrate where one bone meets and moves on another.
karyotype (Gr. karyon, kernel + typos, stamp or print) The particular array of chromosomes that an individual possesses.
kinetic energy The energy of motion.
kinetochore (Gr. kinetikos, putting in motion + choros, chorus) A disk of protein bound to the centromere to which microtubules attach during cell division, linking chromatids to the spindle.
kingdom The chief taxonomic category. This book recognizes six kingdoms: Archaea, Bacteria, Protista, Fungi, Animalia, and Plantae.
lamella, pl lamellae (L. a little plate) A thin, platelike structure. In chloroplasts, a layer of chlorophyll-containing membranes. In bivalve mollusks, one of the two plates forming a gill. In vertebrates, one of the thin layers of bone laid concentrically around the Haversian canals.
ligament (L. ligare, to bind) A band or sheet of connective tissue that links bone to bone.
linkage The patterns of assortment of genes that are located on the same chromosome. Important because if the genes are located relatively far apart, crossing over is more likely to occur between them than if they are close together.
lipid (Gr. lipos, fat) A loosely defined group of molecules that are insoluble in water but soluble in oil. Oils such as olive, corn, and coconut are lipids, as well as waxes, such as beeswax and earwax. lipid bilayer The basic foundation of all biological membranes. In such a layer, the nonpolar tails of phospholipid molecules point inward, forming a nonpolar zone in the interior of the bilayers.
Lipid bilayers are selectively permeable and do not permit the diffusion of water-soluble molecules into the cell.
littoral (L. litus, shore) Referring to the shoreline zone of a lake or pond or the ocean that is exposed to the air whenever water recedes.
locus, pL loci (L. place) The position on a chromosome where a gene is located.
loop of Henle After F. G. J. Henle, German anatomist. A hairpin loop formed by a urine-conveying tubule when it enters the inner layer of the kidney and then turns around to pass up again into the outer layer of the kidney.
lymph (L. lympha, clear water) In animals, a colorless fluid derived from blood by filtration through capillary walls in the tissues.
lymphatic system An open circulatory system composed of a network of vessels that function to collect the water within blood plasma forced out during passage through the capillaries and to return it to the bloodstream. The lymphatic system also returns proteins to the circulation, transports fats absorbed from the intestine, and carries bacteria and dead blood cells to the lymph nodes and spleen for destruction.
lymphocyte (Gr. lympha, water + Gr. kytos, hollow vessel) A white blood cell. A cell of the immune system that either synthesizes antibodies (B cells) or attacks virus-infected cells (T cells).
lyse (Gr. lysis, loosening) To disintegrate a cell by rupturing its plasma membrane.
macromolecule (Gr. makros, large + L. moliculus, a little mass) An extremely large molecule. Refers specifically to carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids.
macrophage (Gr. makros, large + -phage, eat) A phagocytic cell of the immune system able to engulf and digest invading bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms, as well as cellular debris.
marrow The soft tissue that fills the cavities of most bones and is the source of red blood cells.
mass flow The overall process by which materials move in the phloem of plants.
mass number The mass number of an atom consists of the combined mass of all of its protons and neutrons.
meiosis (Gr. meioun, to make smaller) A special form of nuclear division that precedes gamete formation in sexually reproducing eukaryotes. It results in four haploid daughter cells.
Mendelian ratio After Gregor Mendel, Austrian monk. Refers to the characteristic 3:1 segregation ratio that Mendel observed, in which pairs of alternative traits are expressed in the F2 generation in the ratio of three- fourths dominant to one-fourth recessive.
menstruation (L. mens, month) Periodic sloughing off of the blood-enriched lining of the uterus when pregnancy does not occur. meristem (Gr. merizein, to divide) In plants, a zone of unspecialized cells whose only function is to divide.
mesoderm (Gr. mesos, middle + derma, skin) One of the three embryonic germ layers that form in the gastrula. Gives rise to muscle, bone, and other connective tissue; the peritoneum; the circulatory system; and most of the excretory and reproductive systems.
mesophyll (Gr. mesos, middle + phyllon, leaf) The photosynthetic parenchyma of a leaf, located within the epidermis. The vascular strands (veins) run through the mesophyll.
metabolism (Gr. metabole, change) The process by which all living things assimilate energy and use it to grow.
metamorphosis (Gr. meta, after + morphe, form + osis, state of) Process in which form changes markedly during postembryonic development—for example, tadpole to frog or larval insect to adult.
metaphase (Gr. meta, middle + phasis, form) The stage of mitosis characterized by the alignment of the chromosomes on a plane in the center of the cell.
metastasis, pl metastases (Gr. to place in another way) The spread of cancerous cells to other parts of the body, forming new tumors at distant sites.
microevolution (Gr. mikros, small + L. evolvere, to unfold) Refers to the evolutionary process itself. Evolution within a species. Also called adaptation.
microtubule (Gr. mikros, small + L. tubulus, little pipe) In eukaryotic cells, a long, hollow cylinder about 25 nanometers in diameter and composed of the protein tubulin.
Microtubules influence cell shape, move the chromosomes in cell division, and provide the functional internal structure of cilia and flagella.
mimicry (Gr. mimos, mime) The resemblance in form, color, or behavior of certain organisms (mimics) to other more powerful or more protected ones (models), which results in the mimics being protected in some way.
mitochondrion, pL mitochondria (Gr. mitos, thread + chondrion, small grain) A tubular or sausage-shaped organelle 1 to 3 micrometers long. Bounded by two membranes, mitochondria closely resemble the aerobic bacteria from which they were originally derived. As chemical furnaces of the cell, they carry out its oxidative metabolism.
mitosis (Gr. mitos, thread) The M phase of cell division in which the microtubular apparatus is assembled, binds to the chromosomes, and moves them apart. This phase is the essential step in the separation of the two daughter cell genomes.
mole (L. moles, mass) The atomic weight of a substance, expressed in grams. One mole is defined as the mass of 6.0222 x 1023 atoms.
molecule (L. moliculus, a small mass) The smallest unit of a compound that displays the properties of that compound.
monocot Short for monocotyledon; flowering plant in which the embryos have only one cotyledon, the flower parts are often in threes, and the leaves typically are parallel-veined.
monomers (Gr. mono, single + meris, part) Simple molecules that can join together to form polymers.
monosaccharide (Gr. monos, one + sakcharon, sugar) A simple sugar.
morphogenesis (Gr. morphe, form + genesis, origin) The formation of shape. The growth and differentiation of cells and tissues during development.
motor endplate The point where a neuron attaches to a muscle. A neuromuscular synapse.
multicellularity A condition in which the activities of the individual cells are coordinated and the cells themselves are in contact. A property of eukaryotes alone and one of their major characteristics. muscle (L. musculus, mouse) The tissue in the body of humans and animals that can be contracted and relaxed to make the body move.
muscle cell A long, cylindrical, multinucleated cell that contains numerous myofibrils and is capable of contraction when stimulated.
muscle spindle A sensory organ that is attached to a muscle and sensitive to stretching.
mutagen (L. mutare, to change) A chemical capable of damaging DNA.
mutation (L. mutare, to change) A change in a cell’s genetic message.
mutualism (L. mutuus, lent, borrowed) A symbiotic relationship in which both participating species benefit.
mycelium, pL mycelia (Gr. mykes, fungus) In fungi, a mass of hyphae.
mycology (Gr. mykes, fungus) The study of fungi. A person who studies fungi is called a mycologist.
mycorrhiza, pl. mycorrhizae (Gr. mykes, fungus + rhiza, root) A symbiotic association between fungi and plant roots.
myofibril (Gr. myos, muscle + L. fibrilla, little fiber) An elongated structure in a muscle fiber, composed of myosin and actin.
myosin (Gr. myos, muscle + in, belonging to) One of two protein components of myofilaments. (The other is actin.)
natural selection The differential reproduction of genotypes caused by factors in the environment. Leads to evolutionary change.
nematocyst (Gr. nema, thread + kystos, bladder) A coiled, threadlike stinging structure of cnidarians that is discharged to capture prey and for defense.
nephron (Gr. nephros, kidney) The functional unit of the vertebrate kidney. A human kidney has more than 1 million nephrons that filter waste matter from the blood. Each nephron consists of a Bowman’s capsule, glomerulus, and tubule.
nerve A bundle of axons with accompanying supportive cells, held together by connective tissue.
nerve impulse A rapid, transient, self- propagating reversal in electrical potential that travels along the membrane of a neuron.
neuromodulator A chemical transmitter that mediates effects that are slow and longer lasting and that typically involve second messengers within the cell.
neuromuscular junction The structure formed when the tips of axons contact (innervate) a muscle fiber.
neuron (Gr. nerve) A nerve cell specialized for signal transmission.
neurotransmitter (Gr. neuron, nerve + L. trans, across + mitere, to send) A chemical released at an axon tip that travels across the synapse and binds a specific receptor protein in the membrane on the far side.
neurulation (Gr. neuron, nerve) The elaboration of a notochord and a dorsal nerve cord that marks the evolution of the chordates.
neutron (L. neuter, neither) A subatomic particle located within the nucleus of an atom. Similar to a proton in mass, but as its name implies, a neutron is neutral and possesses no charge.
neutrophil An abundant type of white blood cell capable of engulfing microorganisms and other foreign particles.
niche (L. nidus, nest) The role an organism plays in the environment; realized niche is the niche that an organism occupies under natural circumstances; fundamental niche is the niche an organism would occupy if competitors were not present.
nitrogen fixation The incorporation of atmospheric nitrogen into nitrogen compounds, a process that can be carried out only by certain microorganisms.
nocturnal (L. nocturnus, night) Active primarily at night.
node (L. nodus, knot) The place on the stem where a leaf is formed.
node of Ranvier After L. A. Ranvier, French histologist. A gap formed at the point where two Schwann cells meet and where the axon is in direct contact with the surrounding intercellular fluid.
nondisjunction The failure of homologous chromosomes to separate in meiosis I. The cause of Down syndrome. nonrandom mating A phenomenon in which individuals with certain genotypes sometimes mate with one another more commonly than would be expected on a random basis.
notochord (Gr. noto, back + L. chorda, cord) In chordates, a dorsal rod of cartilage that forms between the nerve cord and the developing gut in the early embryo.
nucleic acid A nucleotide polymer. A long chain of nucleotides. Chief types are deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which is double-stranded, and ribonucleic acid (RNA), which is typically single-stranded.
nucleosome (L. nucleus, kernel + soma, body) The basic packaging unit of eukaryotic chromosomes, in which the DNA molecule is wound around a ball of histone proteins. Chromatin is composed of long strings of nucleosomes, like beads on a string. nucleotide A single unit of nucleic acid, composed of a phosphate, a five-carbon sugar (either ribose or deoxyribose), and a purine or a pyrimidine.
nucleolus A region inside the nucleus where rRNA and ribosomes are produced.
nucleus (L. a kernel, dim. Fr. nux, nut) A spherical organelle (structure) characteristic of eukaryotic cells. The repository of the genetic information that directs all activities of a living cell. In atoms, the central core, containing positively charged protons and (in all but hydrogen) electrically neutral neutrons.
oocyte (Gr. oion, egg + kytos, vessel) A cell in the outer layer of the ovary that gives rise to an ovum. A primary oocyte is any of the 2 million oocytes a female is born with, all of which have begun the first meiotic division.
operon (L. operis, work) A cluster of functionally related genes transcribed onto a single mRNA molecule. A common mode of gene regulation in prokaryotes; it is rare in eukaryotes other than fungi. order A taxonomic category ranking below a class and above a family.
organ (L. organon, tool) A complex body structure composed of several different kinds of tissue grouped together in a structural and functional unit.
organelle (Gr. organella, little tool) A specialized compartment of a cell. Mitochondria are organelles.
organism Any individual living creature, either unicellular or multicellular.
organ system A group of organs that function together to carry out the principal activities of the body.
osmoconformer An animal that maintains the osmotic concentration of its body fluids at about the same level as that of the medium in which it is living.
osmoregulation The maintenance of a constant internal solute concentration by an organism, regardless of the environment in which it lives.
osmosis (Gr. osmos, act of pushing, thrust) The diffusion of water across a membrane that permits the free passage of water but not that of one or more solutes. Water moves from an area of low solute concentration to an area with higher solute concentration.
osmotic pressure The increase of hydrostatic water pressure within a cell as a result of water molecules that continue to diffuse inward toward the area of lower water concentration (the water concentration is lower inside than outside the cell because of the dissolved solutes in the cell).
osteoblast (Gr. osteon, bone + blastos, bud) A bone-forming cell.
osteocyte (Gr. osteon, bone + kytos, hollow vessel) A mature osteoblast.
outcross A term used to describe species that interbreed with individuals other than those like themselves.
oviparous (L. ovum, egg + parere, to bring forth) Refers to reproduction in which the eggs are developed after leaving the body of the mother, as in reptiles.
ovulation The successful development and release of an egg by the ovary.
ovule (L. ovulum, a little egg) A structure in a seed plant that becomes a seed when mature.
ovum, pl. ova (L. egg) A mature egg cell. A female gamete.
oxidation (Fr. oxider, to oxidize) The loss of an electron during a chemical reaction from one atom to another. Occurs simultaneously with reduction. Is the second stage of the 10 reactions of glycolysis.
oxidative metabolism A collective term for metabolic reactions requiring oxygen.
oxidative respiration Respiration in which the final electron acceptor is molecular oxygen.
parasitism (Gr. para, beside + sitos, food) A symbiotic relationship in which one organism benefits and the other is harmed.
parthenogenesis (Gr. parthenos, virgin + Eng. genesis, beginning) The development of an adult from an unfertilized egg. A common form of reproduction in insects.
partial pressures (P) The components of each individual gas—such as nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide—that together constitute the total air pressure.
pathogen (Gr. pathos, suffering + Eng. genesis, beginning) A disease-causing organism.
pedigree (L. pes, foot + grus, crane) A family tree. The patterns of inheritance observed in family histories. Used to determine the mode of inheritance of a particular trait.
peptide (Gr. peptein, to soften, digest) Two or more amino acids linked by peptide bonds.
peptide bond A covalent bond linking two amino acids. Formed when the positive (amino, or NH2) group at one end and a negative (carboxyl, or COOH) group at the other end undergo a chemical reaction and lose a molecule of water.
peristalsis (Gr. peri, around + stellein, to wrap) The rhythmic sequences of waves of muscular contraction in the walls of a tube.
pH Refers to the concentration of H+ ions in a solution. The numerical value of the pH is the negative of the exponent of the molar concentration. Low pH values indicate high concentrations of H+ions (acids), and high pH values indicate low concentrations (bases).
phagocyte (Gr. phagein, to eat + kytos, hollow vessel) A cell that kills invading cells by engulfing them. Includes neutrophils and macrophages.
phagocytosis (Gr. phagein, to eat + kytos, hollow vessel) A form of endocytosis in which cells engulf organisms or fragments of organisms.
phenotype (Gr. phainein, to show + typos, stamp or print) The realized expression of the genotype. The observable expression of a trait (affecting an individual’s structure, physiology, or behavior) that results from the biological activity of proteins or RNA molecules transcribed from the DNA.
pheromone (Gr. pherein, to carry + [hor] mone) A chemical signal emitted by certain animals as a means of communication.
phloem (Gr. phloos, bark) In vascular plants, a food-conducting tissue basically composed of sieve elements, various kinds of parenchyma cells, fibers, and sclereids.
phosphodiester bond The bond that results from the formation of a nucleic acid chain in which individual sugars are linked together in a line by the phosphate groups. The phosphate group of one sugar binds to the hydroxyl group of another, forming an—O—P—O bond.
photon (Gr. photos, light) The unit of light energy.
photoperiodism (Gr. photos, light + periodos, a period) A mechanism that organisms use to measure seasonal changes in relative day and night length.
photorespiration A process in which carbon dioxide is released without the production of ATP or NADPH. Because it produces neither ATP nor NADPH, photorespiration acts to undo the work of photosynthesis.
photosynthesis (Gr. photos, light + -syn, together + tithenai, to place) The process by which plants, algae, and some bacteria use the energy of sunlight to create from carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) the more complicated molecules that make up living organisms.
phototropism (Gr. photos, light + trope, turning to light) A plant’s growth response to a unidirectional light source.
phylogeny (Gr. phylon, race, tribe) The evolutionary relationships among any group of organisms.
phylum, pl. phyla (Gr. phylon, race, tribe) A major taxonomic category, ranking above a class.
physiology (Gr. physis, nature + logos, a discourse) The study of the function of cells, tissues, and organs.
pigment (L. pigmentum, paint) A molecule that absorbs light.
pili (pilus) Short flagella that occur on the cell surface of some prokaryotes.
pinocytosis (Gr. pinein, to drink + kytos, cell) A form of endocytosis in which the material brought into the cell is a liquid containing dissolved molecules.
pistil (L. pistillum, pestle) Central organ of flowers, typically consisting of ovary, style, and stigma; a pistil may consist of one or more fused carpels and is more technically and better known as the gynoecium.
plankton (Gr. planktos, wandering) The small organisms that float or drift in water, especially at or near the surface.
plasma (Gr. form) The fluid of vertebrate blood. Contains dissolved salts, metabolic wastes, hormones, and a variety of proteins, including antibodies and albumin. Blood minus the blood cells. plasma membrane A lipid bilayer with embedded proteins that control the cell’s permeability to water and dissolved substances.
plasmid (Gr. plasma, a form or something molded) A small fragment of DNA that replicates independently of the bacterial chromosome.
platelet (Gr. dim ofplattus, flat) In mammals, a fragment of a white blood cell that circulates in the blood and functions in the formation of blood clots at sites of injury.
pleiotropy (Gr. pleros, more + trope, a turning) A gene that produces more than one phenotypic effect.
polarization The charge difference of a neuron so that the interior of the cell is negative with respect to the exterior.
polar molecule A molecule with positively and negatively charged ends. One portion of a polar molecule attracts electrons more strongly than another portion, with the result that the molecule has electron-rich (-) and electron-poor (+) regions, giving it magnetlike positive and negative poles. Water is one of the most polar molecules known.
pollen (L. fine dust) A fine, yellowish powder consisting of grains or microspores, each of which contains a mature or immature male gametophyte. In flowering plants, pollen is released from the anthers of flowers and fertilizes the pistils.
pollen tube A tube that grows from a pollen grain. Male reproductive cells move through the pollen tube into the ovule.
pollination The transfer of pollen from the anthers to the stigmas of flowers for fertilization, as by insects or the wind.
polygyny (Gr. poly, many + gyne, woman, wife) A mating choice in which a male mates with more than one female.
polymer (Gr. polus, many + meris, part)
A large molecule formed of long chains of similar molecules called subunits.
polymerase chain reaction (PCR) A process by which DNA polymerase is used to copy a sequence of DNA repeatedly, making millions of copies of the same DNA.
polymorphism (Gr. polys, many + morphe, form) The presence in a population of more than one allele of a gene at a frequency greater than that of newly arising mutations.
polynomial system (Gr. polys, many + [bi] nomial) Before Linnaeus, naming a genus by use of a cumbersome string of Latin words and phrases.
polyp A cylindrical, pipe-shaped cnidarian usually attached to a rock with the mouth facing away from the rock on which it is growing. Coral is made up of polyps.
polypeptide (Gr. polys, many + peptein, to digest) A general term for a long chain of amino acids linked end to end by peptide bonds. A protein is a long, complex polypeptide.
polysaccharide (Gr. polys, many + sakcharon, sugar) A sugar polymer. A carbohydrate composed of many monosaccharide sugar subunits linked together in a long chain. population (L. populus, the people) Any group of individuals of a single species, occupying a given area at the same time.
posterior (L. post, after) Situated behind or farther back.
potential difference A difference in electrical charge on two sides of a membrane caused by an unequal distribution of ions.
potential energy Energy with the potential to do work. Stored energy. predation (L. praeda, prey) The eating of other organisms. The one doing the eating is called a predator, and the one being consumed is called the prey.
primary growth In vascular plants, growth originating in the apical meristems of shoots and roots, as contrasted with secondary growth; results in an increase in length.
primary plant body The part of a plant that arises from the apical meristems.
primary producers Photo synthetic organisms, including plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria.
primary structure of a protein The sequence of amino acids that makes up a particular polypeptide chain.
primordium, pl primordia (L. primus, first + ordiri, begin) The first cells in the earliest stages of the development of an organ or structure.
productivity The total amount of energy of an ecosystem fixed by photosynthesis per unit of time. Net productivity is productivity minus that which is expended by the metabolic activity of the organisms in the community.
prokaryote (Gr. pro, before + karyon, kernel) A simple organism that is small, single-celled, and has little evidence of internal structure.
promoter An RNA polymerase binding site. The nucleotide sequence at the end of a gene to which RNA polymerase attaches to initiate transcription of mRNA.
prophase (Gr. pro, before + phasis, form) The first stage of mitosis during which the chromosomes become more condensed, the nuclear envelope is reabsorbed, and a network of microtubules (called the spindle) forms between opposite poles of the cell.
protein (Gr. proteios, primary) A long chain of amino acids linked end to end by peptide bonds. Because the 20 amino acids that occur in proteins have side groups with very different chemical properties, the function and shape of a protein is critically affected by its particular sequence of amino acids.
protist (Gr. protos, first) A member of the kingdom Protista, which includes unicellular eukaryotic organisms and some multicellular lines derived from them.
proton A subatomic particle in the nucleus of an atom that carries a positive charge. The number of protons determines the chemical character of the atom because it dictates the number of electrons orbiting the nucleus and available for chemical activity.
protostome (Gr. protos, first + stoma, mouth) An animal in whose embryonic development the mouth forms at or near the blastopore. Also characterized by spiral cleavage.
protozoa (Gr. protos, first + zoion, animal) The traditional name given to heterotrophic protists.
pseudocoel (Gr. pseudos, false + koiloma, cavity) A body cavity similar to the coelom except that it forms between the mesoderm and endoderm.
punctuated equilibrium A hypothesis of the mechanism of evolutionary change that proposes that long periods of little or no change are punctuated by periods of rapid evolution.
quaternary structure of a protein A term to describe the way multiple protein subunits are assembled into a whole.
radial symmetry (L. radius, a spoke of a wheel + Gr. summetros, symmetry) The
regular arrangement of parts around a central axis so that any plane passing through the central axis divides the organism into halves that are approximate mirror images.
radioactivity The emission of nuclear particles and rays by unstable atoms as they decay into more stable forms. Measured in curies, with 1 curie equal to 37 billion disintegrations a second.
radula (L. scraper) A rasping, tonguelike organ characteristic of most mollusks.
recessive allele An allele whose phenotype effects are masked in heterozygotes by the presence of a dominant allele.
recombination The formation of new gene combinations. In bacteria, it is accomplished by the transfer of genes into cells, often in association with viruses. In eukaryotes, it is accomplished by reassortment of chromosomes during meiosis and by crossing over.
reducing power The use of light energy to extract hydrogen atoms from water.
reduction (L. reductio, a bringing back; originally, “bringing back” a metal from its oxide) The gain of an electron during a chemical reaction from one atom to another. Occurs simultaneously with oxidation.
reflex (L. reflectere, to bend back) An automatic consequence of a nerve stimulation. The motion that results from a nerve impulse passing through the system of neurons, eventually reaching the body muscles and causing them to contract.
refractory period The recovery period after membrane depolarization during which the membrane is unable to respond to additional stimulation.
renal (L. renes, kidneys) Pertaining to the kidney.
repression (L. reprimere, to press back, keep back) The process of blocking transcription by the placement of the regulatory protein between the polymerase and the gene, thus blocking movement of the polymerase to the gene.
repressor (L. reprimere, to press back, keep back) A protein that regulates transcription of mRNA from DNA by binding to the operator and so preventing RNA polymerase from attaching to the promoter.
resolving power The ability of a microscope to distinguish two points as separate.
respiration (L. respirare, to breathe) The utilization of oxygen. In terrestrial vertebrates, the inhalation of oxygen and the exhalation of carbon dioxide.
resting membrane potential The charge difference that exists across a neuron’s membrane at rest (about 70 millivolts).
restriction endonuclease A special kind of enzyme that can recognize and cleave DNA molecules into fragments. One of the basic tools of genetic engineering.
restriction fragment-length polymorphism (RFLP) An associated genetic mutation marker detected because the mutation alters the length of DNA segments.
retrovirus (L. retro, turning back) A virus whose genetic material is RNA rather than DNA. When a retrovirus infects a cell, it makes a DNA copy of itself, which it can then insert into the cellular DNA as if it were a cellular gene.
ribonucleic acid (RNA) A nucleic acid that contains the sugar ribose and the pyrimidine uracil and that is used in protein production; includes mRNA, tRNA, rRNA, and siRNA.
ribose A five-carbon sugar. ribosome A cell structure composed of protein and RNA that translates RNA copies of genes into protein.
RNA interference A type of gene silencing in which mRNA is prevented from being translated; small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) have been found to bind to mRNA and target its degradation or block its translation RNA polymerase The enzyme that transcribes RNA from DNA.
saltatory conduction A very fast form of nerve impulse conduction in which the impulses leap from node to node over insulated portions.
sarcoma (Gr. sarx, flesh) A cancerous tumor that involves connective or hard tissue, such as muscle.
sarcomere (Gr. sarx, flesh + meris, part of) The fundamental unit of contraction in skeletal muscle. The repeating bands of actin and myosin that appear between two Z lines.
sarcoplasmic reticulum (Gr. sarx, flesh + plassein, to form, mold; L. reticulum, network) The endoplasmic reticulum of a muscle cell. A sleeve of membrane that wraps around each myofilament. scientific creationism A view that the biblical account of the origin of the earth is literally true, that the earth is much younger than most scientists believe, and that all species of organisms were individually created just as they are today.
secondary growth In vascular plants, growth that results from the division of a cylinder of cells around the plant’s periphery. Secondary growth causes a plant to grow in diameter.
secondary structure of a protein The folding and bending of a polypeptide chain, which is held in place by hydrogen bonds.
second messenger An intermediary compound that couples extracellular signals to intracellular processes and also amplifies a hormonal signal.
seed A structure that develops from the mature ovule of a seed plant. Contains an embryo and a food source surrounded by a protective coat.
selection The process by which some organisms leave more offspring than competing ones and their genetic traits tend to appear in greater proportions among members of succeeding generations than the traits of those individuals that leave fewer offspring.
self-fertilization The transfer of pollen from an anther to a stigma in the same flower or to another flower of the same plant.
sepal (L. sepalum, a covering) A member of the outermost whorl of a flowering plant. Collectively, the sepals constitute the calyx.
septum, pl septa (L. saeptum, a fence) A partition or cross-wall, such as those that divide fungal hyphae into cells. sex chromosomes In humans, the X and Y chromosomes, which are different in the two sexes and are involved in sex determination.
sex-linked characteristic A genetic characteristic that is determined by genes located on the sex chromosomes.
sexual reproduction Reproduction that involves the regular alternation between syngamy and meiosis. Its outstanding characteristic is that an individual offspring inherits genes from two parent individuals. shoot In vascular plants, the aboveground parts, such as the stem and leaves.
sieve cell In the phloem (food-conducting tissue) of vascular plants, a long, slender sieve element with relatively unspecialized sieve areas and with tapering end walls that lack sieve plates. Found in all vascular plants except angiosperms, which have sieve-tube members.
soluble Refers to polar molecules that dissolve in water and are surrounded by a hydration shell.
solute The molecules dissolved in a solution. See also solution, solvent.
solution A mixture of molecules, such as sugars, amino acids, and ions, dissolved in water.
solvent The most common of the molecules in a solution. Usually a liquid, commonly water.
somatic cells (Gr. soma, body) All the diploid body cells of an animal that are not involved in gamete formation. somite A segmented block of tissue on either side of a developing notochord.
species, pl species (L. kind, sort) A level of taxonomic hierarchy; a species ranks next below a genus.
sperm (Gr. sperma, sperm, seed) A sperm cell. The male gamete. spindle The mitotic assembly that carries out the separation of chromosomes during cell division. Composed of microtubules and assembled during prophase at the centrioles of the dividing cell.
spore (Gr. spora, seed) A haploid reproductive cell, usually unicellular, that is capable of developing into an adult without fusion with another cell. Spores result from meiosis, as do gametes, but gametes fuse immediately to produce a new diploid cell.
sporophyte (Gr. spora, seed + phyton, plant) The spore-producing, diploid (2n) phase in the life cycle of a plant having alternation of generations.
stabilizing selection A form of selection in which selection acts to eliminate both extremes from a range of phenotypes.
stamen (L. thread) The part of the flower that contains the pollen. Consists of a slender filament that supports the anther. A flower that produces only pollen is called staminate and is functionally male.
steroid (Gr. stereos, solid + L. ol, from oleum, oil) A kind of lipid. Many of the molecules that function as messengers and pass across cell membranes are steroids, such as the male and female sex hormones and cholesterol.
steroid hormone A hormone derived from cholesterol. Those that promote the development of the secondary sexual characteristics are steroids.
stigma (Gr. mark) A specialized area of the carpel of a flowering plant that receives the pollen.
stoma, pl stomata (Gr. mouth) A
specialized opening in the leaves of some plants that allows carbon dioxide to pass into the plant body and allows water vapor and oxygen to pass out of them.
stratum corneum The outer layer of the epidermis of the skin of the vertebrate body.
substrate (L. substratus, strewn under) A molecule on which an enzyme acts.
substrate-level phosphorylation The generation of ATP by coupling its synthesis to a strongly exergonic (energy-yielding) reaction.
succession In ecology, the slow, orderly progression of changes in community composition that takes place through time. Primary succession occurs in nature on bare substrates, over long periods of time. Secondary succession occurs when a climax community has been disturbed.
sugar Any monosaccharide or disaccharide.
surface tension A tautness of the surface of a liquid, caused by the cohesion of the liquid molecules. Water has an extremely high surface tension.
surface-to-volume ratio Describes cell size increases. Cell volume grows much more rapidly than surface area.
symbiosis (Gr. syn, together with + bios, life) The condition in which two or more dissimilar organisms live together in close association; includes parasitism, commensalism, and mutualism.
synapse (Gr. synapsis, a union) A junction between a neuron and another neuron or muscle cell. The two cells do not touch. Instead, neurotransmitters cross the narrow space between them.
synapsis (Gr. synapsis, contact, union) The close pairing of homologous chromosomes that occurs early in prophase I of meiosis. With the genes of the chromosomes thus aligned, a DNA strand of one homologue can pair with the complementary DNA strand of the other.
syngamy (Gr. syn, together with + gamos, marriage) Fertilization. The union of male and female gametes.
taxonomy (Gr. taxis, arrangement + nomos, law) The science of the classification of organisms.
T cell A type of lymphocyte involved in cell- mediated immune responses and interactions with B cells. Also called a
T lymphocyte. tendon (Gr. tenon, stretch) A strap of connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone.
tertiary structure of a protein The threedimensional shape of a protein. Primarily the result of hydrophobic interactions of amino acid side groups and, to a lesser extent, of hydrogen bonds between them. Forms spontaneously.
test cross A cross between a heterozygote and a recessive homozygote. A procedure Mendel used to further test his hypotheses.
theory (Gr. theorem, to look at) A well-tested hypothesis supported by a great deal of evidence.
thigmotropism (Gr. thigma, touch + trope, a turning) The growth response of a plant to touch.
thorax (Gr. a breastplate) The part of the body between the head and the abdomen.
thylakoid (Gr. thylakos, sac + -oides, like) A flattened, saclike membrane in the chloroplast of a eukaryote. Thylakoids are stacked on top of one another in arrangements called grana and are the sites of photosystem reactions.
tissue (L. texere, to weave) A group of similar cells organized into a structural and functional unit.
trachea, pl tracheae (L. windpipe) In vertebrates, the windpipe.
tracheid (Gr. tracheia, rough) An elongated cell with thick, perforated walls that carries water and dissolved minerals through a plant and provides support. Tracheids form an essential element of the xylem of vascular plants.
transcription (L. trans, across + scribere, to write) The first stage of gene expression in which the RNA polymerase enzyme synthesizes an mRNA molecule whose sequence is complementary to the DNA. translation (L. trans, across + latus, that which is carried) The second stage of gene expression in which a ribosome assembles a polypeptide, using the mRNA to specify the amino acids.
translocation (L. trans, across + locare, to put or place) In plants, the process in which most of the carbohydrates manufactured in the leaves and other green parts of the plant are moved through the phloem to other parts of the plant.
transpiration (L. trans, across + spirare, to breathe) The loss of water vapor by plant parts, primarily through the stomata.
transposon (L. transponere, to change the position of) A DNA sequence carrying one or more genes and flanked by insertion sequences that confer the ability to move from one DNA molecule to another. An element capable of transposition (the changing of chromosomal location). trophic level (Gr. trophos, feeder) A step in the movement of energy through an ecosystem.
tropism (Gr. trop, turning) A plant’s response to external stimuli. A positive tropism is one in which the movement or reaction is in the direction of the source of the stimulus. A negative tropism is one in which the movement or growth is in the opposite direction.
turgor pressure (L. turgor, a swelling)
The pressure within a cell that results from the movement of water into the cell. A cell with high turgor pressure is said to be turgid.
unicellular Composed of a single cell.
urea (Gr. ouron, urine) An organic molecule formed in the vertebrate liver. The principal form of disposal of nitrogenous wastes by mammals.
urine (Gr. ouron, urine) The liquid waste filtered from the blood by the kidneys.
vaccination The injection of a harmless microbe into a person or animal to confer resistance to a dangerous microbe.
vacuole (L. vacuus, empty) A cavity in the cytoplasm of a cell that is bound by a single membrane and contains water and waste products of cell metabolism. Typically found in plant cells.
van der Waals forces Weak chemical attractions between atoms that can occur when atoms are very close to each other.
variable Any factor that influences a process. In evaluating alternative hypotheses about one variable, all other variables are held constant so that the investigator is not misled or confused by other influences.
vascular bundle In vascular plants, a strand of tissue containing primary xylem and primary phloem. These bundles of elongated cells conduct water with dissolved minerals and carbohydrates throughout the plant body.
vascular cambium In vascular plants, the meristematic layer of cells that gives rise to secondary phloem and secondary xylem. The activity of the vascular cambium increases stem or root diameter.
ventral (L. venter, belly) Refers to the bottom portion of an animal. Opposite of dorsal.
vertebrate An animal having a backbone made of bony segments called vertebrae.
vesicle (L. vesicula, a little (ladder) Membrane-enclosed sacs within eukaryotic cells.
vessel element In vascular plants, a typically elongated cell, dead at maturity, that conducts water and solutes in the xylem.
villus, pl villi (L. a tuft of hair) In vertebrates, fine, microscopic, fingerlike projections on epithelial cells lining the small intestine that serve to increase the absorptive surface area of the intestine.
vitamin (L. vita, life + amine, of chemical origin) An organic substance that the organism cannot synthesize, but is required in minute quantities by an organism for growth and activity.
viviparous (L. vivus, alive + parere, to bring forth) Refers to reproduction in which eggs develop within the mother’s body and young are born free-living.
voltage-gated channel A transmembrane pathway for an ion that is opened or closed by a change in the voltage, or charge difference, across the cell membrane.
water vascular system The system of water-filled canals connecting the tube feet of echinoderms.
whorl A circle of leaves or of flower parts present at a single level along an axis.
wood Accumulated secondary xylem. Heartwood is the central, nonliving wood in the trunk of a tree. Hardwood is the wood of dicots, regardless of how hard or soft it actually is. Softwood is the wood of conifers.
xylem (Gr. xylon, wood) In vascular plants, a specialized tissue, composed primarily of elongate, thick-walled conducting cells, that transports water and solutes through the plant body.
yolk (O.E. geolu, yellow) The stored substance in egg cells that provides the embryo’s primary food supply.
zygote (Gr. zygotos, paired together) The diploid (2n) cell resulting from the fusion of male and female gametes (fertilization).