What is Biology?
Biology is the study of life that includes everything, which is, or was once, alive such as plant, animal, microorganisms, etc. In general, in biology, we study the structure, growth, function, origin, evolution and distribution of living organisms. The word biology is made from two Greek words "bios" which means life and "logos" that means study.
Biology is very important for us as it explains how living things work, function, and interact with other living and non-living things on multiple levels. It is the biology that helped scientists develop better medicines, treatment options, understand and protect the environment, and produce enough food for the growing human population, and more. Generally, biology is divided into two branches botany and zoology.
- Botany: It deals with the study of plants. A person who studies botany is known as 'botanist'. It also studies plant-like organisms like algae, mosses, ferns, etc. It is further divided into subgroups like Plant ecology, Paleobotany, Plant pathology, Forensic botany, and more.
- Zoology: It is the branch of biology that deals with the study of animals such as their physiology, behaviour, classification, distribution and interactions with other living animals and organisms.
Besides botany and zoology, the biology has numerous branches or sub-disciplines, some of which are listed below:
1) Anatomy: This branch of biology deals with the study of the internal body structure of a plant, animal, organism, etc. In human anatomy, the internal structure of the human body is studied and in Plant anatomy, the internal structure of plants is studied.
2) Physiology: It deals with the study of the mechanisms of the living things starting from the cell functions to the functions and behaviour of the entire body including the influence of the external environment. It is an experimental science that helps understand the detailed mechanism that controls and regulate the behaviour of humans, plants, and other living things.
3) Biotechnology: It is the branch of biology that uses or exploits living processes or mechanisms of living things like humans, animals, organisms, etc., to produce products or technology for a specific use or to improve the human life.
Types of biotechnology:
Biotechnology can be divided into sub-disciplines based on uses as described below:
- Red biotechnology: It involves medical processes that use organisms in the field of medicine. It uses organisms to produce new drugs and also uses stem cells to regenerate damaged human tissues, etc. It is intended to improve health care, immunity of the human body. For example, producing vaccines, antibiotics, new drugs, regenerative therapies, genetic manipulation, etc.
- White biotechnology: It is also known as industrial biotechnology as it is applied to industrial processes such as producing new chemicals and developing new alternatives of fuels for vehicles, and more.
- Green biotechnology: It deals with agricultural processes such as producing new plant species, diseases resistance crops, high yielding crops, diseases-resistance animals, bio-fertilizers, bio pesticides, etc.
- Blue biotechnology: It deals with the exploitation or use of marine resources such as aquatic organisms, petroleum reserves to produce products of industrial purposes. It involves the use of molecular biological methods to marine and freshwater organisms.
- Yellow biotechnology: It involves the use of biotechnology in food production such as wine, cheese, beer, etc. It researches and experiments to aid food production. Some foods cannot be produced without fermentation such as curd, cheese, beer, etc.
- Grey biotechnology: It deals with the health of the environment including the conservation of biodiversity. It balances the environment by using microorganisms to remove pollutants and also uses plants to remove unwanted substances such as hydrocarbons and heavy metals.
- Gold biotechnology: It deals with bioinformatics such as data analysis of biological processes. So, it is also referred to as computation biology that uses computational techniques to deal with biological problems. It helps in quick organization and analysis of biological data.
- Dark biotechnology: It deals with biological weapons and their use in bioterrorism or wars.
- Violet biotechnology: It deals with the legal and ethical aspects of biotechnology.
4) Ecology: This branch of biology deals with the study of living organisms and their physical environment and how they interact with each other and with their environment. It studies the interactions of all organisms in an ecosystem. So, we can say that it is the study of the ecosystem.
5) Immunology: It deals with the study of the immune system that protects us from infections and diseases through different levels of defence.
6) Genetics: This branch of biology deals with the study of heredity in organisms such as genes, genetic variations, mutations, etc. Heredity is a biological process that enables parents to pass their genes that are responsible for traits or characteristics to their children.
There are numerous sub-disciplines of Genetics some of which are as follows:
- Molecular genetics: It involves the study of the molecular structure of DNA.
- Cytogenetics: This branch of genetics involves the study of the structure of DNA that is found in the nucleus of a cell.
- Human genetics: It is the study of inheritance in humans such as the human genome and transmission of genes from one generation to another generation.
- Plant genetics: It is the study of genes in plants that includes heredity, genetic variations, mechanism of transmission of traits, etc.
- Microbial genetics: It is the study of the mechanism of transmission of hereditary information or traits in microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi, etc.
- Epigenetics: It deals with the study of heritable changes in gene expression or a change in phenotype that occur without any change in genotype or gene sequence. Such phenotype changes are not caused by the alteration in the genes (sequence of nucleotide) on DNA.
- Biochemical genetics: It involves the study of the chemical structure of the genes (sequence of nucleotides on DNA), their relationship and how they control the functions of enzymes. Thus, it helps in the diagnosis and treatment of metabolic diseases.
7) Microbiology: It deals with the scientific study of living microorganisms, which are also known as microbes like bacteria, viruses, algae, protozoa, fungi, etc., that cannot be seen with the naked eye. It can be a unicellular and cell-cluster organism.
Sub-disciplines of Microbiology:
Microbiology can be divided into different branched based on the type of study of bacteria such as
- Bacteriology: It deals with the study of bacteria.
- Parasitology: It deals with the study of parasites.
- Mycology: It deals with the study of fungi.
- Virology: It involves the study of viruses.
- Protozoology: It involves the study of protozoa.
- Environmental Microbiology: It studies the function and variations in microbes in their natural environment.
- Evolutionary Microbiology: It is the study of the evolution of microbes.
- Food Microbiology: It studies the microbes that may spoil food and that are used to create foods such as beer, cheese, curd, etc.