By Paul S. Agutter, Denys N. Wheatley

This booklet makes use of glossy organic wisdom to take on the query of what distinguishes residing organisms from the non-living global. The authors first draw on fresh advances in phone and molecular biology to enhance an account of the dwelling kingdom that applies to all organisms (and merely to organisms). This account is then used to discover questions on evolution, the beginning of lifestyles, and the potential of extraterrestrial existence. the radical technique taken through this ebook to concerns in biology will curiosity and be obtainable to either the final reader in addition to scholars and experts within the box.

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Extra resources for About Life: Concepts in Modern Biology

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Eukaryotic cells vary a great deal in size. Yeast cells are smaller than our model implies; amphibian eggs are very much bigger, large enough to be seen with the naked eye. Nevertheless the overall message is clear: even the smallest eukaryotic cell is much bigger than the biggest prokaryote. Living cells fall into two distinct classes, differing in size range and in contents. There are no intermediate sizes and forms. Why not? Eukaryotes solve the problem of the prokaryotic cell membrane (too many jobs to accomplish in too small an area) by delegating most of these jobs to internal structures.

If the weasel eats the beetle, it will metabolise the products of digested beetle. When the weasel excretes waste, or dies, various fungi and bacteria in the soil fuel digest weasel excrement or dead weasel. The waste products of these bacteria and fungi include carbon dioxide and water, along with simple nitrogen compounds that the oak can absorb through its roots. 38 Chapter 4 The oak uses these simple compounds to make food for itself - and for aphids. Thus, energy and materials are endlessly recycled among the organisms we see around us (or cannot see because they are microscopic), and the recycling process is solar powered.

Both meanings of the word apply in the present context, but for clarity, assume the everyday meaning: the living state is not simple! 32 Chapter 4 by a well-defined catabolic pathway, makes its energy available to the cell. Every reaction step in this pathway (there are about two dozen steps) depends on an enzyme, a protein or a small group of proteins of which the sole purpose is to catalyse that reaction. Every reaction step in every pathway of metabolism depends on a specific, dedicated enzyme.

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