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Essential Understandings for Biology

Essential Understanding #1

Unit of Structure and Function: The cell’s structure and function act together providing the homeostatic unit of life.

Essential Understanding #2

Chemical Basis of Life: Laws of chemistry apply to living and nonliving systems. These laws include rules by which ionic and covalent bonds form and are broken. Energy is always involved. Living systems are uniquely organized as an array of macromolecules that serve as functional units to maintain homeostasis.

Essential Understanding #3

Energy for Living Systems: The energy for life primarily derives from the sun. Plants capture energy by absorbing light and using it to form strong, covalent, chemical bonds between the atoms of organic molecules. In addition, the energy stored in chemical bonds between the atoms can be used as sources of energy for life processes.

Essential Understanding #4

Genetics: Mendel’s laws explain the inheritance of traits and how they combine to form new genetic combinations. They explain how new characteristics can result from existing genes or from mutations of genes in reproductive cells and how these mutations can be inherited through asexual or sexual reproduction. Modern molecular biology allows scientists to analyze, isolate and alter genes and this ability helps scientists in the analysis and treatment of certain diseases.

Essential Understanding #5

Ecology: The biosphere is a complex system of interactions among living and nonliving components with matter and energy moving through different levels of organization. The distribution and abundance of organisms and populations in ecosystems are ultimately governed by the availability of matter and energy and the ability of the ecosystem to recycle organic materials. Any changes affecting a component ultimately affect the entire biosphere including the activities of the human population.

Essential Understanding #6

Evolution/Diversity: The diversity of life is the result of natural selection in a changing environment and other evolutionary processes (gradualism and punctuated equilibrium) that have been active for billions of years. Molecular, anatomical and fossil evidence support the theory of natural selection. Scientists have developed a classification system to organize the diversity of life. Living things are classified into kingdoms based on major distinctions among them. Classification systems allow differentiation among organisms and help distinguish human beings from other primates.

Essential Understanding #7

Human Biology: The human body is composed of interacting systems made up of interacting organs, tissues and cells which are affected by environmental conditions, nutrition, physical activity and pathogens.