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11 February 2008

Life Science

The instructor passed out Project Learning Tree and Project WET books for the class and
explained the development of lesson plans from these sources.

Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes

Prokaryotes- first evidence of life on earth via fossils were from prokaryotic cells (3,500
million years ago, or 3.5 billion years ago) This literally means “before the nucleus”
- Example: bacteria
- no distinct nucleus
- have DNA and RNA throughout the cell
- have a cell wall
- have no mitochondria, produce ATP but in much smaller amounts
- size of prokaryotic cells is limited due to limited amount of ATP
- dot of a pencil lead vs. the size of a basketball
- have no cell organelles

Eukaryotes- appeared 1.7 billion years ago according to the fossil record. Eukaryote
means “true nucleus”.
- Ex. amoeba *also spelled ameba in some sources
- have a distinct nucleus
- have DNA and RNA
- Some have a cell wall, others do not (plant cell vs. animal cell)
- have mitochondria, site of manufacture of ATP
- have cell organelles, such as Golgi bodies or endoplasmic reticulum

It took 1.8 billion years to advance from prokaryotic cells to eukaryotic cells. It took
longer to make that transition than it has taken to make the transition from eukaryotic
cells to present life forms.

Endosymbiotic theory

The endosymbiotic hypothesis was popularized by Dr. Lynn Margulis. She wrote about it
in her work Symbiosis in Cell Evolution.

According to the fossil record, life originated on earth in the absence of oxygen.
2.5 billion years later, oxygen begins accumulating in the atmosphere due to the
photosynthesis of certain prokaryotic cells. This mainly took place in the ocean. Iron
deposits are the result of the reaction of iron with the oxygen created from this process
because the iron reacted with the oxygen molecules in the ocean and created ferrous
oxide. Some of the prokaryotes had to be able to use the oxygen. 2 billion years ago,
mitochondria were a specialized form of bacteria that didn’t die when exposed to oxygen,
they were able to process it with aerobic respiration. This made them predators. The
predation of bacteria by specialized mitochondria bacteria caused the clumping of other
cells, which may have enabled the mitochondria to invade the clump of cells and begin
living and thriving there. A professor at UT worked with amoebas and noticed that within
the food vacuoles, there were thriving bacteria. He removed the bacteria and the bacteria
and amoeba died.

One problem that these free mitochondria faced was the ability to reproduce. Dr.
Margulis looked for the presence of DNA within the mitochondria. Mitochondria have
their own DNA and can replicate independently.

Something interesting:
If you compare a human sperm with a human egg cell, it’s a similar ratio (sperm=dot,
egg=basketball). This is because the egg is the source of mitochondrial DNA.
Mitochondrial DNA is passed on from the mother. It does change from mutations, which
occur at a predictable rate of nearly every 1000 years.

Classification System

R. H. Whittaker - developed a system of classification in 1969 that used cell type (single
celled or multicellular, prokaryote or eukaryote) and mode of nutrition (consumer,
producer, or decomposer). Viruses are not included in this classification because they
have no personal mode of nutrition since they are parasites.

Monera
-Prokaryotic
-Decomposers or producers

Protista
-Eukaryotic
-Consumers or producers

Fungi
-Eukaryotic
-Most are multicellular
- Yeast is single celled
-thrive in warm, dark locations with supply of sugar for food, making
them ideal for classroom experiments
- Decomposers

Plant
-Eukaryotic
-Multicellular
- Producers

Animal
-Eukaryotic
-Multicellular
-Consumers

Classification isn’t foolproof, and there are occasional exceptions to the rules.

There are still many niches that can be filled by bacteria (prokaryotes) more effectively
than any other organism. If the human body has 6 trillion cells, there are more bacterial
cells living in your body than the number of cells that are human cells. If a small espresso
cup was filled with dirt, there would be more bacteria in the espresso cup than there are
human beings on earth. When they are testing for E. coli bacteria, if they only find
100,000 bacteria in one milliliter of water, they can claim the water is “safe”.

Viruses

Viruses are not included in Whitaker’s classification because they have no personal mode
of nutrition because they are parasites. Viruses invade cells of other living things. Viruses
have no nucleus. In fact, they have no cellular structure.

DNA Viruses
- Parvoviruses
-deadly in dogs
- Papoviruses
- causes warts on the skin
- Human Papoloma Virus occurs in people and is linked to cervical cancer
-Herpes viruses
- lifetime infection
-Epstein- Barr is the virus that causes Mononucleosis
-This can cause Chronic Fatigue Syndrome later in life
- Herpes Zoster –Chicken pox- later this virus can cause Shingles, and the
virus lays dormant at the site of the first outbreak.
- Pox viruses
-have killed more humans than any other group of viruses
-Small Pox has killed more than any other type of pox virus
-is no longer a threat due to vaccinations
- Dr. Edward Jenner would go into cities that had been affected by
Small Pox. He would isolate groups that didn’t get ill from
outbreaks. The group that seemed to be immune were typically
young females from the age of 6 to 12. The young girls got a virus
from cattle called Cow Pox, which gave them immunity to Small
Pox. He took a needle and scratched some of the puss from a sore
of a girl with Cow Pox, and discovered that it caused immunity in
others by scratching the puss into the skin of a non-infected person.

RNA Viruses
-Enteroviruses
-Polio
-Gamma globulin, given as shots, gave 6 weeks immunity to Polio.
- Later, a vaccine was developed so there was long-term immunity for
polio, given orally.
- 61 year old woman living in an “iron lung”, and has lived there since she
was 3 years old.

-Rhinovirus
- this causes the common cold, is highly contagious, but won’t kill you,
256 varieties.
-Togavirus
- Yellow Fever
- Rubella, or German Measles
- causes birth defects and pregnancy terminations
-Influenza viruses
- Flu comes from the world’s most densely populated areas
- Flu vaccines come from pigs
-Retrovirus
- many leukemia types
- HIV/ AIDS
-HIV/AIDS has evolved with a property that no other virus has
ever adopted. It is engulfed by the white cells and creates more
viruses.
- 30% of the population of South Africa is affected with AIDS