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Magnification: the size of an image of an object compared to the actual

size. It is calculated using the formula M = I/A (M is magnification, I is the
size of the image and A is the actual size of the object, using the same
units for both sizes).
Resolution: ability of a microscope to distinguish two objects as separate
from one another. The smaller and closer together the objects that can be
distinguished, the higher the resolution. Resolution is determined by the
wavelength of the radiation used to view the specimen. If the parts of the
specimen are smaller than the wavelength of the radiation, then the
waves are not stopped by them and they are not seen. Light microscopes
(200nm) have limited resolution compared to electron microscopes
(0.5nm) because light has a much longer wavelength than the beam of
electrons in an electron microscope.

Cell Structure
Cell Surface Membrane: a very thin membrane (about 7nm diameter)
surrounding all cells; it is partially permeable and controls exchange of
materials between the cell and its environment.
Cell Wall: a wall surrounding prokaryote, plant and fungal cells; the wall
contains a strengthening material which protects the cell from mechanical
damage, supports it and prevents it bursting by osmosis if the cell is
surrounded by a solution with a higher water potential.
Centriole: one of 2 small, cylindrical structures, made from microtubules,
found just outside the nucleus in animal cells, in a region known as the
centrosome; they are also found at the bases of cilia and flagella.
Endoplasmic Reticulum: a network of flattened sacs (cisternae) running
through the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells; molecules, particularly proteins,
can be transported through the cell inside the sacs separate from rest of
the cytoplasm; ER is continuous with the outer membrane of the nuclear
Golgi Apparatus/Body: an organelle found in eukaryotic cells; the Golgi
apparatus consists of a stack of flattened sacs (cisternae), constantly
forming at one end and breaking up into Golgi vesicles at the other end;
Golgi vesicles carry their contents to other parts of the cell, often to the
cell surface membrane for secretion; the Golgi apparatus chemically
modifies the molecules it transports; for example, sugars may be added to
proteins to make glycoproteins.
Lysosome: a spherical organelle found in eukaryotic cells; a lysosome
contains digestive (hydrolytic) enzymes and has a variety of destructive
functions such as the removal of old cell organelles.
Mitochondrion: the organelle in eukaryotes in which aerobic respiration
take place.

Nucleus: a relatively large organelle found in eukaryotic cells, but absent

from prokaryotic cells; the nucleus contains the cells DNA and therefore
controls the activities of the cell.
Nuclear Envelope: the 2 membranes situated closely together, that
surround the nucleus; the envelope is perforated with pores.
Nuclear Pores: pores found in the nuclear envelope, which control the
exchange of materials, e.g. mRNA, between the nucleus and the
Nucleolus: a small structure, one or more of which is found inside the
nucleus; the nucleolus is usually visible as densely stained body; its
function is to manufacture ribosomes using the information in its own
Plasmodesma: a pore-like structure found in plant cell walls;
plasmodesmata of neighbouring plant cells line up to form tube-like pores
through the cell walls, allowing the controlled passage of materials from
one cell to the other; the pores contain ER and are lined with the cell
surface membrane.

Biological Molecules
Anabolism: the formation of large, complex molecules by linking smaller,
simpler molecules. These are endothermic (require ATP). (Condensation
reactions form water).
Catabolism: the breakdown of large, complex molecules into smaller
molecules. These are exothermic (release energy). (Hydrolysis reactions
add water).
Monosaccharide: a molecule consisting of a single sugar unit with the
general formula (CH2O)n
Glycogen: a polysaccharide made of many glucose molecules linked
toegther, that acts as a glucose sotre in liver and muscle cells.
Glycosidic bond: a C-O-C link between 2 monosaccharide molecules
formed by a condensation reaction removing a water molecule.
Amylopectin: a polymer of -glucose monomers linked by both 1,4 and
1,6 linkages, forming a branched chain; amylopectin is a constituent of
Amylose: a polymer of -glucose monomers linked by 1,4 linkages,
forming a curving chain; amylose is a constituent of starch.
Disaccharide: a sugar molecule consisting of 2 monosaccharides joined
together by a glycosidic bond.
Peptide bond: a C-N link between 2 amino acid molecules, formed by a
condensation reaction, removing a water molecule.

-Pleated sheet: a loose, sheet-like strcuture formed by hydrogen

bonding between parallel polypeptide chains; a -Pleated sheet is an
example of secondary structure in a protein.
Haemoglobin: the red pigment found in red blood cells, whose molecules
contain four iron atoms within a globular protein made up of four
polypeptides, and that combines reversibly with oxygen.

As a solvent:

Water is a very good solvent for ions and other polar molecules such
as salts, sugars and proteins. It is an important reagent as metabolic
reactions take place in aqueous solutions.

Due to its ability to dissolve so many molecules, water is an important

transport medium in animals and plants.
Thermal properties:

A relatively large amount of energy is required to increase the

temperature of water (it has a high specific heat capacity-H bonds),
which provides a temperature-stable medium.

A relatively large amount of energy is required to turn water into a gas

(it has a high latent heat of vaporisation). When we sweat, heat
energy from the body is used to evaporate water, making it an
effective coolant.
Density and freezing:

Ice is less dense than liquid water, so it floats. This insulates the water
below, preventing large bodies of water from completely freezing, and
increases the chance of organisms surviving cold temperatures.
Surface tension and cohesion:

Water molecules have very high cohesion. This is important for

transpiration in plants, and is an important property in cells. It also
creates surface tension, allowing small organisms to move across it.

Globular protein: a protein whose molecules are folded into a relatively
spherical shape, and which is often water-soluble and metabolically active, insulin and haemoglobin
Activation energy: the energy that must be provided to make a reaction
take place; enzymes reduce the activation energy required for a substrate
to change into a product.
Active site: an area on an enzyme molecule where the substrate can bind
by temporary hydrogen bonds.
Induced Fit Hypothesis: a model for enzyme action; the substrate is a
complementary shape to the active site of the enzyme, but not an exact fit
the enzyme or sometimes the substrate can sometimes change shape
slightly to ensure a perfect fit.

Lock and Key Hypothesis: a model for enzyme action; the substrate is a
complementary shape to the active site of the enzyne and fits perfectly
into the site.
Competitive Inhibition: when a substance reduces the rate of activity of
an enzyme by competing with the substrate molecules for the enzymes
active site; increasing the concentration of the substrate reduces the
degree of inhibition.
Non-Competitive Inhibition: when a substance reduces the rate of
activity of an enzyme, but increasing the concentration of the substrate
does not reduce the degree of inhibition; many non-compettive inhibitors
bind to areas of the enzyme molecule other than the active site itself, but
alters the shape of the active site.
Michaelis-Menten Constant (Km): the substrate concentration at which
an enzyme works at half its maximum rate (1/2 Vmax), used as a measure
pf the efficieny of an enzyme; the lower the value of Km, the more
efficient the enzyme.

Membrane and Transport

Phospholipid: a substance whose molecules are made up of a glycerol
moelcule, 2 fatty acids and a phosphate group; a bilayer of phospholipids
forms the basic structure of all cell membranes.
Diffusion: the net movement of particles such as molecules from a region
where they are at a higher concentration to a region with a lower
concentration, using energy from the random movements of particles. This
includes diffusion of small non-polar molecules (such as oxygen and
carbon dioxide) through the cell membranes, as well as diffusion of fatsoluble molecules (such as vitamin A) through the cell surface membrane.
Channel protein: a membrane protein of fixed shape which has water
filled pore through which selected hydrophilic ions ore molecules can pass.
(see facilitated diffusion)
Cholestrol: a small, lipid-related molecule with a hydrophilic head and a
hyrdophobic tail which is an essential constituent of membranes,
particularly in animal cells, conferring fluidity, flexibility and stability to the
Facilitated diffusion: the diffusion of ions and polar (water-soluble)
molecules through cell membranes using specific protein channels or
carriers, down a concentration gradient (from regions where they are at
higher concentration to regions where they are at lower concentration).
Osmosis: the diffusion of water molecules from a region where water is at
a higher water potential through a partially permeable membrane to a
region with a lower water potential.
Active transport: the movement of molecules or ions through transport
proteins across a cell membrane, against their concentration gradient,
using energy from ATP.

Endocytosis: uptake of materials into cells by inward foldings of the cell

membrane to form sacs of membrane that separate from the cell
membrane to form vesicles within the cytoplasm, using energy from ATP
to move the cytoplasm around. The process may involve liquid
solutions/suspensions (pinocytosis) or solid macromolecules or cells
Exocytosis: secretion of materials out of cells by cytoplasmic vesicles
fusing with the cell membrane and releasing the contents of the vesicle
into the fluid around the cell, using ATP to move the cytoplasm.

Cell Division and Genetic Control

Gene: a length of DNA that codes for a particular protein or polypeptide
Complementary Base Pairing: the hydrogen bonding of A with T or U
and of C with G in nucleic acids.
Adenine (A): nitrogen-containing purine base found in DNA and RNA
Guanine (G): nitrogen-containing purine base found in DNA and RNA
Nucleotide: a molecule consisting of a nitrogen-containing base, a
pentose sugar and a phosphate group.
Messenger RNA (mRNA): a single stranded RNA molecule that carries
the genetic code from DNA to a ribosome.
Anticodon: sequence of 3 unpaired bases on a tRNA molecule that binds
with a codon of mRNA
Chromosomes: a structure made of DNA and histones, found in the
nucleus of a eukaryotic cell; the term bacterial chromosome is now
commonly used for the circular strand if DNA present in a prokaryotic cell.
Chromatin: the loosely coiled form of chromosomes during interphase of
the cell cycle; chromatin is made of DNA and proteins and is visible as
loosely distributed patches or fibres within in the nucleus when stained.
Chromatid: one of 2 identical parts of a chromosome, held together by a
centromere, formed during interphase by the replication of the DNA
Mitosis: the division of a nucleus into two, so that the two daughter cells
have exactly the same number and type of chromosomes as the parent
Haploid: a eukaryotic cell or organism containing only one complete set
of chromosomes (only one of each homologous chromosome), shown as n,
such as a human sperm or secondary oocyte.
Diploid: a eukaryotic cell or organism containing two complete sets of
chromosomes (two copies of each homologous chromosome), shown as
2n, such as a human body (somatic) cell.