Topic outline

  • Course Introduction

    Welcome to BIO101: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology.  This course is intended for the student interested in understanding and appreciating common biological topics in the study of the smallest units within biology: molecules and cells.

    Molecular and cellular biology is a dynamic field.  There are thousands of opportunities within the medical, pharmaceutical, agricultural, and industrial fields (just to name a few) for a person with a concentrated knowledge of molecular and cellular processes.  This course will give you a general introduction of these topics.  In addition to preparing for a diversity of career paths, an understanding of molecular and cell biology will help you make sound decisions in your everyday life that can positively impact your diet and health.

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  • Unit 1: Introduction to Biology

    Biology is the "study of life.”  This unit will introduce to you major topics that a biologist studies and the major theories he or she uses and applies in his or her work.  Hopefully, this is where you will begin to develop an appreciation for the scope of topics that biology addresses.

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  • Unit 2: Basic Chemistry

    Life is driven by chemical processes.  Many topics in chemistry overlap with basic biology principles.  To fully understand biology, you must have a basic understanding and appreciation of chemistry.  The readings and lectures presented below can help you prepare for the topics in the course as well serve as a resource to which you can refer throughout the semester.  This unit contains a series of YouTube video lectures that will address basic chemistry topics.  You may find that the importance and organization of this unit will make more sense as you proceed through the course.

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  • Unit 3: Biological Molecules

    All organisms contain the organic biological molecules--carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acid--that are essential to life.  Having an understanding of the structures and functions of these molecules will help you understand what organic molecules our body needs to function properly.

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  • Unit 4: Cells and Cell Membranes

    Cells are the smallest unit of life.  This unit will help you to understand the characteristics, components, and functions of a cell.  By learning the structures of the cells, you can see the similarities and differences between organisms.  Bacteria, plant, animal, and fungus cells are similar in many ways and contain many of the same small structures known as organelles.  However, there are characteristics that can help you distinguish whether a cell belongs to an animal, plant, fungus, or bacteria.  For example, all plant cells contain cell walls, while animal cells lack this particular organelle.  It is the water within a cell pressing against the cell wall that gives a plant its rigidity and your celery its crunch!

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  • Unit 5: Enzymes, Metabolism, Cellular Respiration

    The cell uses enzymes and metabolic pathways to conduct the chemical reactions within the body.  The sum total of every chemical reaction in your body is known as your "metabolism.”  Understanding the reactions that comprise your metabolism is essential to understanding how your body acquires and uses energy to survive.

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  • Unit 6: Photosynthesis

    Have you ever wondered how a plant grows from a tiny acorn to a giant oak?  Where does all that biomass come from?  How does it get the energy to grow?  This unit will help you answer those questions by discussing photosynthesis.  Photosynthesis is the fascinating process by which plants convert light energy to chemical energy.  Because plants are at the bottom of the food pyramid in almost all ecological systems, understanding how they grow and develop will give you a greater understanding of your environment.

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  • Unit 7: Cellular Reproduction: Mitosis

    This unit discusses the process of cellular division known as mitosis.  Mitosis happens in almost every cell of your body and is responsible for growth as well as the replacement of damaged cells.  Serious consequences, such as cancer, can occur if this cell cycle is disrupted in some way.  The topics you will study in this unit are essential in understanding basic principles about your health.

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  • Unit 8: Cellular Reproduction: Meiosis

    Meiosis is a specialized type of cellular reproduction that only occurs in the ovaries and testes and results in an egg or sperm, respectively.  Sexual reproduction is responsible for the amazing amount of diversity within a species.  When sperm fertilizes an egg, the resulting offspring contain genes from the father and the mother.  In essence, you contain, at least in a small part, genes from ALL of your ancestors.

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  • Unit 9: Mendelian Genetics & Chromosomes

    Do you ever wonder why you look so similar to your brother, or where you got your freckles from?  Are you concerned about developing a disease that another family member struggles with?  These are the types of questions that can be answered with an understanding of genetics.  This unit will teach you about the basic principles of inheritance and will help you understand the chances of a trait being passed from one generation to another.

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  • Unit 10: Gene Expression

    In this unit, you will learn about the universal genetic codes deoxyribonucleic acid and ribonucleic acid, which are better known as DNA and RNA.  DNA and RNA are universal because one or both are found in every known organism!  As you learned in Unit 7, the DNA and RNA in every organism are made up of the same few "ingredients.”  However, the slight differences are what account for the differences between species (what makes a dog different from a toadstool) and the differences within species (what makes you different from your neighbor).  This unit will give you a greater understanding of the genetic code and its impact on your life.

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  • Optional Course Evaluation Survey

    Please take a few moments to provide some feedback about this course at the link below. Consider completing the survey whether you have completed the course, you are nearly at that point, or you have just come to study one unit or a few units of this course.

    Link: Optional Course Evaluation Survey (HTML)

    Your feedback will focus our efforts to continually improve our course design, content, technology, and general ease-of-use. Additionally, your input will be considered alongside our consulting professors' evaluation of the course during its next round of peer review. As always, please report urgent course experience concerns to contact@saylor.org and/or our Discourse forums.

  • Final Exam


    Quizzes: 2