Molecular & Cellular Biology

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Photo depicts Earth from space.
This NASA image is a composite of several satellite-based views of Earth. To make the whole-Earth image, NASA scientists combine observations of different parts of the planet. (credit: NASA/GSFC/NOAA/USGS)

Viewed from space, Earth offers no clues about the diversity of life forms that reside there. The first forms of life on Earth are thought to have been microorganisms that existed for billions of years in the ocean before plants and animals appeared. The mammals, birds, and flowers so familiar to us are all relatively recent, originating 130 to 200 million years ago. Humans have inhabited this planet for only the last 2.5 million years, and only in the last 200,000 years have humans started looking like we do today.

This introductory course in biology starts at the microscopic level, with molecules and cells. Before we get into the specifics of cell structure and behavior, however, lets take a cursory glance at the field of biology more generally. Though biology as we know it today is a relatively new field, we have been studying living things since the beginning of recorded history. The invention of the microscope was the turning point in the history of biology; it paved the way for scientists to discover bacteria and other tiny organisms and ultimately led to the modern cell theory of biology. You will notice that, unlike the core program courses you took in chemistry and physics, introductory biology does not have many mathematical laws and rules and does not require much math. Instead, you will learn a great number of new terms and concepts that will help you describe life at the smallest level. Over the course of this semester, you will recognize the ways in which the tiniest of molecules are involved in the way we go about our everyday lives. Note that this course is an alternative to BIO101B, and that you may choose to take either BIO101A or BIO101B in order to learn about molecular and cellular biology. These courses cover the same material but in a slightly different way.

Quiz PDF eBook: 
Molecular & Cellular Biology
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Sample Questions from the Molecular & Cellular Biology Quiz

Question: Which of the following are produced during the light reactions of photosynthesis?


ATP, NADPH, and O2

Glucose, ATP, and NADPH


ADP, NADP+, and O2

Question: Which statement about the role of these RNA polymerases is inaccurate?


mRNA is a RNA copy of a segment of DNA.

tRNA transfers information from the DNA to the RNA.

rRNA serves as a decoder during translation.

tRNA and rRNA interact closely during translation.

Question: Where is ATP produced in the chloroplast?


Calvin Cycle

ATP synthase on the thylakoid membrane

Electron transport chain of the light reactions in the thylakoid membrane

All of the above

Question: Which of the following scientist(s) discovered the structure of the DNA molecule?


Gregor Mendel

Francis Crick and James Watson

Louis Pasteur

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

Question: If the general formula for monosaccharide is (CH2O)n, then the value of n for galactose is _____________ and fructose is _______________.


4, 6

6, 4

6, 6

5, 6

Question: Which of the following are the fundamental chronological steps of the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology?


DNA is translated to mRNA, which is transcribed to protein.

DNA is transcribed to mRNA, which is translated to protein.

DNA is polymerized to protein, which is translated to mRNA.

DNA is transcribed to mRNA, which is functionalized to protein.

Question: A protein binds a DNA sequence several hundred base pairs upstream of a promoter and increases the rate of transcription of the gene, which the promoter controls. This protein is called which of the following?






Question: Which of the following is NOT an organ involved in homeostasis?




Endocrine system


Question: Which of the following statement about evolution and adaptation is false?


The most superior individual in the species will pass the most genes to the next generation.

The most superior finch in a habitat is the most efficient at finding sexual mates.

The ability to survive various environments confers an adaptive advantage.

Evolution is all natural, meaning that it has no rules.

Question: How is energy transferred in metabolism?


By the process where a phosphate group is added to ADP

By the process where a phosphate group is added to ATP

By phosphate groups that are moved around

By enzymes that are moved around

Question: Which of the following is CORRECTLY matched?


Exon and mRNA

tRNA and nucleus

Okazaki fragments and nucleus

Assembly into multimeric protein and Golgi

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Source:  Liang Wang, Johanna Choo, Ann Schlosser and Katie George. Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology. (The Saylor Academy 2014), (Accessed 16 May, 2014). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-ND
Dionne Mahaffey
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Saylor Foundation
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Rachel Woolard
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