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1 Characteristics of living organisms

Biology is the study of living things which are often called organism. Living organism has seven features
or characteristics which make them different from.

MRS. GREN

Movement. This may be the movement of a part of an organism in relation to the rest of its body (such as
the movement of an arm or of a shoot tip), or it may involve the movement of the whole organism from
one place to another – when it is called locomotion. It commonly involves the contraction of muscles (as
in the arm) or cells growing at different rates (as in the shoot tip).

MOVEMENT: All organisms are able to move to some extent their whole body from place to place and
plant can slowly move parts of themselves.

Respiration. This is a chemical reaction that takes place in living cells. It involves the breakdown of
large, nutrient organic molecules (usually carbohydrates, such as glucose) to release (not to ‘make’,
‘manufacture’ or ‘produce’) the energy contained within the molecule. The glucose molecule contains
energy in the form of chemical energy, which is converted into other forms for use in doing work – such
as electrical energy in nerve impulses

RESPIRATION: The chemical reaction in cells that break down glucose molecule’s and release energy.

Sensitivity. This is the ability to detect and respond to changes in the environment (known as stimuli).
The stimuli may be from the internal environment – for example, the effect of hormones on a cell or
tissue, or from the external environment – for example, light. The internal environment is a term that
refers to the conditions inside an organism. Sensitivity is also the ability to detect or sense stimuli in the
internal or external environment and to make appropriate responses.

SENSTIVITY: The ability to detect ad respond to changes in the environment.

Growth: It is customary for organisms to start life small in size and gradually become larger with time.
Some organisms grow to a certain size then stop, while others grows continuously throughout their lives.
Growth is defined as a permanent increase in size. Growth involves an increase in dry mass by an
increase in cell number or cell size or both. Dry mass is the mass of all the components within an object
except any water present.

GROWTH: All organisms begin small and get larger, by the growth of their cells and by adding new
cells and by adding new cells to their bodies.

REPRODUCTION: Organisms are able to make new organisms of the same species as themselves.

EXCRETION: All organisms produce unwanted or toxic waste products as a result of their metabolic
reactions, and these must be removed from the body.

The material removed includes the waste products of metabolism – chemical reactions in cells including
respiration.

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Nutrition. In order to provide the raw materials and the energy for all the other characteristics of life
listed previously, organisms must take in energycontaining materials that are required for growth and
development. Nutrition is thus defi ned as the taking in of materials for energy, growth and development.
Plants require light, carbon dioxide, water and ions; animals need organic compounds and ions and
usually need water.

NUTRITION: Organisms take substances from their environments and use them to provide energy or
materials to make new cells.

1.2 CLASSIFICATION AND DIVERSITY OF LIVING ORGANISMS.

CLASSIFICATION: It IS the process by which scientist group living organisms based on their
characteristics.

Why classification is important?

It is important to classify organisms because of the following 5 reason.

1. Identify unknown species.

2. Group of organisms with existences.

3. Giving names to different living organisms’.

4. Universally accepted language.

5. Reference for already identified organisms.

SIGNIFICANCE OF CLASSIFICATIONS

1. Classification makes the study of various organism simpler and easier.


2. Classification is essential to understand the interrelations between different organisms.
3. Classification projects before us a good picture of all life forms at a glance.
4. It serves as a base for the development of other biological sciences like bio-geography,
ecology, behavioral sciences etc.

Concept and use of classification system.

The living universe comprises well over 10 million different types of organism, which are sorted into
groups based on common features. This is called classifi cation (or taxonomy). Those organisms that
share many similar features are placed in the same group. Those that share few features are placed in
separate groups. The number of shared features between different groups gives an indication of how
closely related the groups may be.

Basis of classification.

a. Classification is traditionally based on studies of morphology and anatomy.

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Morphology is the study of external appearance of living organisms. Anatomy deals with the study of
internal structure of living organisms.

Modern classification: are based on studies of immunological and sequences of bases in DNA and of
amino acids in proteins.

BINOMIAL NOMENCLATURE
Swedish scientist Carolus Linaeus proposed binomial nomenclature of living organisms.

In this the first name is Genus the second name is species.

The first letter of the genus always has a capital letter and the species start always has a small letter.

The genus and species are underlined while written and italics in printed.

Genus Species
Human Homo sapiens
Lion Panther leo
Wolf Canis lupus
Mango tree Mangifera indica
Bacteria Lactobacuillus bulgaricus

All living organisms are categorized into

Domain

Kingdom

Phylum

Class

Order

Family

Genus

Species

Animal kingdom

Animals take in ( ingest) and use organic materials from other living organisms as their source of
energy for growth and development.

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Animals able to move from one place to another place. (Movement known as locomotion). (Sponges are
exceptions to this as they are animals that remain fixed to the surface on which they live.)

Sexual reproduction – animals reproduce using specialized reproductive cells (gametes). The male gamete
is the sperm and the female gamete the egg cell (or ovum). Few animals reproduce by asexual
reproduction.

Most animals have diploid nuclei. That is to say that each nucleus has two full sets of genetic
material contained in matching chromosomes. Only the X and Y chromosomes (the sex chromosomes) do
not exactly match.

Animals are multicellular organisms whose cells have no cell wall or chloroplast. Most animals ingest
solid food and digest it internally.

PHYLUM: VERTEBRATES
CLASS;
 Fish
 Birds
 Mammals
 Reptiles
 Amphibians.

Fish:

 Fish are poikilothermic (cold blooded) vertebrates. Most of the fish streamlined shape, which
helps to minimal resistance to the water they move.
 The bodies are covered with scaled and fins. Fins helps in movement

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 Fish respire by means of filamentous gills.
 Fish reproduce sexually but fertilization usually take place externally.
 The female lays eggs and male shed the sperms on the eggs.
 Sense organs are eyes, no eyes. Laterline helps in detecting vibration in water.

Amphibia: example: frog, toad, newt.

 Live in both water and land. Amphibia are cold blooded, vertebrates with four limbs, no scales.
 Amphibia spend most of the time in land in moist situation and returns to ponds to lay eggs.
 Amphibians have 4 limbs. In hind feet have a web between the toes. This helps to swim in water.
 Amphibians have moist skin.
 Amphibians have the lungs in adult. But in larva they respire by gills.
 Sense organs are eyes and ears.

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Class reptiles:

 Crocodiles, lizard, snakes, turtles and tortoises.


 They are vertebrates with scaly skin
 Reptiles lay eggs with rubbery shells. Reptiles are cold blooded animals.
 Except snake, retiles have 4 limbs with 5 toes.
 Reproduction sexually. Retiles mate and eggs are fertilized sperm internally before being laid.
 Sense organs are eye and ears.

Class: Birds:

 Birds are homoeothermic (warm blooded vertebrates)


 They have sharp beak.
 They have powerful wing muscles.
 Body is covered by feathers which give shape and colour to the birds.
 Fertilization is internal and the female lay hard shell and egg in the nest, where she incubate
them.
 Sense organs are eyes and ears.

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Class: Mammals

 Mammals are homoeothermic (warm blooded )vertebrates with 4 limbs


 Hairs are present but in birds feathers are present..
 Mammals have the lungs
 They have mammary glands to feed the new born baby.
 Mammals give a birth new baby instead of lays eggs.
 Eggs are fertilized internals
 Sense organs are ears and eyes.

Invertebrates
 Do not have back bone
 Invertebrates have soft bodies (they do not have internal skeleton, endoskeleton absent.).
 But most have outside (exoskeleton to provide protection).
 Invertebrates are cold blooded.
 Invertebrates live in fresh water, salt water, land some are parasite in other animals.

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 There are invertebrates carnivores (meat eaters), herbivores (plant eaters), and omnivores (eat
both meat and plant.
 Invertebrates can fly, swim float, crawl and burrow.

Phylum; Arthropods

Class:

 insects,
 crustaceans such as crabs lobsters and wood lice.
 Myriapods
 Arachnids

Insects:
Example dragon fly, wasp, bees, butterflies, mosquitoes, housefly, beetles etc.
 Insect have segmented bodies.
 Have firm exoskeleton
 Have 3 pairs of joined legs. Compound eyes.
 Pair of wings
 The segments are divided into head, thorax, and abdomen
 Pair of antennae.

Crustacean:

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Example; crabs, prawns, lobsters, shrimps and barnacles.

 Fresh water crustacean are water fleas, Cyclops, freshwater shrimp and water louse.
 Crustacea have an exoskeleton and more than 4 pairs of jointed legs.
 Have two pairs of antennae and compound eye.
 Breathe through gills.
 Have thick exoskeleton.
 They live in wet place( aquatic)

Arachnids

Examples: spiders, ticks, scorpions.

 These are the spiders, ticks and scorpions.


 They are land-dwelling organisms.
 Four pairs of jointed legs
 Breathe through gills called book lungs.
 Body is divided into cephalothorax and abdomen.
 Pierce their prey and paralyse it with a poison secreted by a gland at the base.

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Myriapods
 These are the centipedes and millipedes.
 Body consists of many segments.
 Each segment has jointed legs. (10 or more pairs of legs).
 Single pair of antennae
 They have simple eyes.
 The centipedes are carnivorous, millipedes feed on vegetable matter.

RNA and DNA sequencing.

The sequence of chemical bases in the DNA and RNA molecules found in different organisms gives a
very accurate indication of close realtion of the organisms. Greater difference in the sequnce of the base

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between two organisms. DNA and RNA base sequence is accurate in identify human beings and other
family.

Plants

Plants are eucaryotic and multicellular oraganisms. Plant cell are surrounded by cell wall. Its made up of
cellulose. Plant do photosynthesis to produce gllcuose. Sexual and asexual reproduction is found in
Plants.

Classification of the plant kingdom.

There are 2 major divisions of plant are the ferns and the flowering plants.

Characteristics of ferns.

 They are green photosynthesising plants.


 They have vascular tissue (xylem and phloem).
 They do not produce flowers. Instead they produce spores that are light and easily carried away
by the wind.
 Spores are released from sporangia, that are found on thelower surfaces of fronds.
 Frond is the term for the leaves of ferns.

Flowering plants:

Characterstics:

Plants with roots, stems and leaves.


Reproduce sexukally inside the ovary in the flower.
Flowering plant is divided into two main groups.
monocot
a. monocotyledonous plant
b. dicotyledonous plant.
Monocots :

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 Have only one cotyledon in their seeds.
 They usually have a branching root system
 They have leaves in which the veins run in parallel to one another.

Dicots

 They have two cotyleons in their seeds.


 They have tap root system.
 Leaves are broader than those of monocots and have a network of branching veins.

List the main features used to place all organisms into one of the five kingdom, animal, plant,
fungus, procaryote, protoctist.

Virus:

 Virus is non-cellular organisms.


 Viruses can be visualized only by electron microscope.
 Size of the virus is less than 300 nm. ( 50 times smaller than the
bacteria).
 Virus contain nucleic acid (either DNA or RNA, but not both)
 The nucleic acid is surrounded by a protein coat (known as capsid)

 Virus can reproduce only inside living host cells.


 Virus are parasites they produce diseases in living
organisms
 Viruses are not affected by antibiotics.

Bacteria (prokaryotes)
 Bacteria are unicellular organisms

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 Bacteria size range 0.5- 5 µm.
 They have no true nucleus
 They have cell wall, cell membrane, cytoplasm, plasmid.
 Bacteria reproduce by asesxual.
 Some bacteria are saprophytic (feed on dead organic matter). Some bacteria are pathogenic and
produce diseases.
 Bacteria are useful in nitrogen fixation, and also used in food production like cheese and yoghurt.
 Bacteria are killed by antibiotics.

Fungi

 Fungi are eukcaryotic, j(yeast is unicellular,


mold is multicellular.
 Few fungi are visible to naked eye like
mushroom.
 Fungi have cell wall made of chitin.
 Fungi have cytoplasm and true nuclei.
 They have no chlorophyll.
 They have thread like strucutre called
hyphae . Many hyphae interwined to form a
mycelium.
 Fungi reproduce by sexual and asexual method.
 They are saprophytic (feed on dead organic matter, some are parasites).

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DICHOTOMOUS KEY

Dichotomous means dividing into two. Organisms are often identified using a book of illustrations. This
is possible only if such a book is available, and this is the case only with certain organism such as
common plants birds and butterflies. Even when such a book is available, identification will rely on the
accuracy of the illustration, and it can be a time- consuming process. For this reasons, biologists use a
dichotomous keys.
Dichotomous key consists of a series of questions. Each question has two alternative answers. Depending
on which answe3r is chosen the user is directed to the next question. Thus by starting at the first question,
and then by a process of elimination, a specimen may be identified.

Protocista:

The kingdom protoctista contains quite a meixture of


organisms. They all have cells with a nucleus. But some
have plant like cells with chloroplasts and cellulose cell
walls. While others have animal-like cells without these
features. Most protoctists are unicellular ( made of single
cell) but some such as seaweeds are mutlicellular.

Characteristics:

 Multicellular or unicellular
 Cells have a nucleus.

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 Cells may or may not have a cell wall and chloroplasts.
 Some feed by photosynthesis and others feed on organic substances made by other organisms.

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