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Essential Questions

Biochemistry

What kind of data is needed to answer scientific questions about how organisms respond
to changes in their external environment?

The data required to answer scientific questions about how organisms respond to changes in
external environment is essentially what kind of internal environment exists for a particular
organism; its response to external stimuli is reliant upon the set up and complexity of body
systems and cells, primarily the nervous system.

What types of molecules do organisms use for building blocks and excrete as wastes?

Organisms utilize macromolecules as building blocks for the vast majority of chemical
structures within the body, with a primary example existing in the use of lipids in the
composition of the plasma membrane of all cells.

How do structures of biologically important molecules (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins


and nucleic acids) account for their functions?

The structure of a molecule accounts for function largely based off the properties of the
monomers that make up the macromolecule. An example of this is the phospholipids that
make up the cell membrane; each individual phospholipid has a hydrophilic head, and two
hydrophobic tails, which results in the composition of the plasma membrane consisting of
heads facing out into extracellular material and the cytoplasm, and the tails making up the
middle of the membrane.

What is the role of ATP in coupling the cells anabolic and catabolic processes?

The role of ATP in coupling the cells anabolic and catabolic processes is that the latter
releases energy in the form of ATP, which is then used to fuel anabolic reactions, which
require energy.

How do the laws of thermodynamics relate to the biochemical processes that provide
energy to living systems?

The laws of thermodynamics apply to the flow of energy and matter through an ecosystem.
In particular, the first law, which states that energy is conserved, refers to the fact that in
spite of the 10% trophic efficiency, the other 90% at each level is being used in other
biological activities, such as homeostasis. The second law applies to the level of entropy or
disorder in the universe, which is required for species diversity.

How does protein structure relate to the functions of enzymes.

Protein structure relates to the function of enzymes as a result of the existence of several
binding sites on the enzyme. These sites and the receptors that bind to them determine
whether or not the enzyme will be active or if it will be shut down.

How is the activity of an enzyme regulated?

Competitive inhibitors, noncompetitive inhibitors, or feedback inhibition either regulates


the activity of an enzyme.

How do enzymes regulate the rate of chemical reactions?

Enzymes regulate the rate of chemical reactions by lowering the activation energy required
for the reaction to take place.
The Cell

How does cell structure and function help to maintain dynamic homeostasis in living
organisms?

Cell structure helps to maintain dynamic homeostasis through a series of organelles; as a


result of compartmentalizing cellular function, cells are able to more efficiently process and
handle responses to stimuli.

Why do growth, reproduction, and maintenance of the organization of living systems


require free energy and matter?

Free energy and matter are required to sustain the dependent relationships organisms have
with one another; the fitness of an organism is based off of its ability to find food and a
hospitable environment, all of which is contingent on autotrophs converting free energy to
usable mass.

What mechanisms and structural features of cells allow organisms to capture, store, and
use free energy?

Chloroplasts of plant cells and other autotrophic organisms allow for free light energy to be
captured, and, through the process of photosynthesis, for it to be converted into glucose and
other sugars.

How do cells conduct long distance and short distance signaling?

Cells conduct long distance signaling through the use of various hormones, which bind to
intracellular or cell surface receptors, which in turn relay what the cells response should
be. The signal molecule will reach intracellular receptors through signal transduction
pathways or by other means. Short distance signaling can be done through physical contact
of peripheral proteins designed to recognize fellow cells.

What are various mechanisms by which substances cross membranes?

Substances can cross membranes through diffusion, passive transport, facilitated diffusion
and active transport, the last of which is the only one to require energy.

How do the structure of lipids and proteins allow for their functioning in membranes and
properties of membranes?

Each individual phospholipid has a hydrophilic head, and two hydrophobic tails,
which results in the composition of the plasma membrane consisting of heads facing
out into extracellular material and the cytoplasm, and the tails making up the
middle of the membrane. This means that hydrophobic substances can pass through
with ease, while hydrophilic substances have a great deal of trouble breaking
through.

What factors limit cell size?

Cell Energetics

Why do growth, reproduction, and maintenance of the organization of living systems


require free energy and matter?

What mechanisms and structural features of cells allow organisms to capture, store, and
use free energy?

How do cells generate ATP in the absence of oxygen?

How does photosythesis convert light energy into chemical energy?

How are the chemical products of the light-trapping reactions coupled to the synthesis of
carbohydrates?

How does chemiosmosis function in bioenergetics?

What is the role of oxygen in energy-yielding pathways?

What interactions exist between photosynthesis and respiration?

How do the energy yielding products of oxidative decarboxylation and the Krebs cycle
form ATP in chemiosmosis?

Genetics

What is the purpose of meiosis and how do the events of meiosis cause variety?
What features of meiosis are important in sexual reproduction?
Why is meiosis important in heredity?

How do the structures of nucleic acids relate to their functions of information storage
and protein synthesis?
How does DNA account for phenotype?
How do mutations arise and affect phenotype?
How does scientific knowledge build on previous findings?
How do prokaryotic cells control gene expression?
What are the processes involved in DNA technology & what are its applications.
What legal and ethical problems may arise from DNA technology?
How does the cell cycle assure genetic continuity?
How does mitosis allow for the even distribution of genetic information to next cells?
What are the mechanisms of cytokinesis in plant and animal cells?
How is the cell cycle regulated?
How can aberrations in the cell cycle lead to tumor formation?
How does failure of the cell cycle control mechanisms lead to cancer?

Evolution

How is natural selection a major mechanism of evolution?

How is biological evolution supported by scientific evidence from many disciplines,


including mathematics?

How is the origin of living systems explained by natural processes?

How do phylogenetic trees graphically model evolutionary history?

What is the evidence for evolution?

What is the role of natural selection in the process of evolution?

What mechanisms account for speciation and macroevolution?

What is life and how did it arise on Earth?

What molecules were present in the first life form?

What was the first genetic molecule?

How did the first cell obtain energy?

How did the first cell form macromolecules?

How did the membrane of early life differ from membranes today?

Why is RNA believed to be the first molecule of life?

Why is DNA a better heredity molecule than RNA?

What is the endosymbiotic theory and what organelles evolved through symbiosis?

Plants

What are the major divisions of plants and what are their evolutionary relationships?

How does plant anatomy and physiology show increasing adaptation to land?

How do plants regulate growth, flowering and germination?

Body Systems

What is the anatomy and physiology behind a reflex?

What is an immune response and how does your body recover from a cold or flu?

How does the endocrine system function to maintain homeostasis?

Ecology

What models are useful in describing the growth of a population?

How is population size regulated by abiotic and biotic factors?

How is energy flow through an ecosystem related to trophic structure?

How do elements (C,N,P,S,O) cycle through ecosystems?

How do organisms affect the cycling of elements and water through the biosphere?

How do biotic and abiotic factors affect community structure and ecosystem function?

In what ways are humans affecting the biogeochemical cycles?

Why is conservation important and how can we reduce the biodiversity crisis?