The invention of optical microscopes, which began around 1600, began laying the groundwork for the development of cell theory. The transition to modern biology appears to have occurred between the late 18th and the early 19th century, at which time biology came into its own as a legitimate, separate field of knowledge, emerging from its roots in medicine and natural history. In the early 20th century, the rediscovery of Mendel's work led to the rapid development of genetics. Today, biology research is interlaced with all other branches of science and mathematics.

Students studying biology will learn about the following topics:

  • Cells and genomes
  • Cell chemistry and biosynthesis
  • Proteins
  • DNA and chromosomes
  • DNA replication, repair, and recombination
  • How cells read the genome: from DNA to protein
  • Control of gene expression
  • Manipulating proteins, DNA, and RNA
  • Visualizing cells
  • Membrane structure
  • Membrane transport of small molecules and the electrical properties of membranes
  • Intracellular compartments and protein sorting
  • Intracellular vesicular traffic
  • Energy conversion: mitochondria and chloroplasts
  • Cell communication
  • The cell cycle and programmed cell death
  • The mechanics of cell division
  • Cell junctions, cell adhesion, and the extracellular matrix
  • Germ cells and fertilization
  • Development of multicellular organisms
  • Histology: The lives and deaths of cells in tissues
  • Cancer
  • The adaptive immune system
  • Pathogens, infection, and innate immunity

There is a good online biology textbook made available by Estrella Mountain Community College in Arizona. Don't forget to visit the American Institute of Biological Sciences. Great selections of biology books are also available from Google. Finally, there is a very helpful website that gives biology books, animations, tutorials, weblinks, quizzes and website links. The publisher W.H. Freeman offers no less than 106 online biology tutorials.

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