Principles of biology

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
BIO/01 BIO/05 BIO/10
Learning objectives
The teaching aims to provide the fundamentals on:
- the chemical, structural and functional characteristics of the main non-informational biological molecules, as well as of the different types of nucleic acids and the flow of genetic information;
- the characteristics of living organisms, heredity, evolution and adaptation;
- the structure and function of animal and plant cells, the main cell types, their organization into tissues, organs and apparatuses, of their functional properties in relation to food strategies.
Expected learning outcomes
The student will acquire the ability to recognize the main non-informational biological molecules, understanding their relative functions, and will have the ability to understand the flow of genetic information.
The student will acquire, moreover, the tools to understand the main morphological and physiological characteristics of living organisms and the cells that compose them with a propaedeutic purpose for subsequent courses.
Course syllabus and organization

Unique edition

Lesson period
First semester
Course syllabus
INTRODUCTION: units of measurement, energy and heat, atom's structure, chemical bonds, molecular weight, chemical reactions. WATER: structure and properties, self-ionization, acids and bases, pH, salts, buffers. COMPOUNDS OF CARBON: saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons, main functional groups, oxygenated organic compounds, compounds containing nitrogen or sulphur. CARBOHYDRATES: structure and functions of the main monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides. LIPIDS: fatty acids, triglycerides, phospholipids, terpenes and steroids. BIOLOGICAL MEMBRANES: structure, composition, functions and membrane transport. Nucleic acids: structure and functions of DNA and RNA.
THE FLOW OF THE GENETIC INFORMATION: replication, transcription and translation.
FEATURES OF LIVING ORGANISMS: origin and classification of living organisms. Living organisms' general properties Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells autotrophy and heterotrophy organisms. Hierarchy and organization of life levels. CELL: as functional and structural unit. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell features: membrane, cytoplasm, nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi complex, mitochondria, and vacuoles, cytoskeleton. Differences between animal and plant cells: cell wall and chloroplasts. MITOCHONDRIA: basic functional information. CHLOROPLASTS: basic functional information. CELL DIVISION: mitosis and meiosis. STRUCTURE AND ORGANIZATION OF LIVING ORGANISMS: evolutionary principles. Animal tissues: connective, muscular, nervous and epithelial, cell junctions. GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT. Sexual and asexual reproduction. Life cycle. BASIC PRINCIPLES OF ANIMAL PHYSIOLOGY: respiration, homeostasis, eating and movement
Prerequisites for admission
No prerequisites
Teaching methods
Frontal lessons
Teaching Resources
Slides presented in class are downloadable from the ARIEL web site of the course.
Nelson D.L., Cox M.M.
Introduzione alla biochimica di Lehninger.
Editore: Zanichelli.

Curtis H., Barnes N.S., Schnek A., Massarini A.
Le basi della biologia
Editore: Zanichelli

Sadava D., Hillis D.M., Heller H.C., Berenbaum M.R.
Biologia - volume 5 La biologia degli animali
Editore: Zanichelli

Salomon, Martin, Martin, Berg
Struttura e processi vitali nelle piante
Editore: EdiSES
Assessment methods and Criteria
To verify learning achievements in the course in Elements of General Biology students go through a two-hour final written exam, in which six open-ended questions are proposed. The achievement of the objectives established by the course will be evaluated taking into account the candidate's ability to accurately define the topics, to offer an overall systematic view of the topics, and familiarity with the specific language.
It is mandatory to sign up at the exam within the deadline indicated on the SIFA (
The evaluation is expressed in thirtieths.
Results are comunicated to the students by an automatically-generated e-mail.
Unita' didattica 1
BIO/01 - GENERAL BOTANY - University credits: 0
BIO/05 - ZOOLOGY - University credits: 0
BIO/10 - BIOCHEMISTRY - University credits: 0
Lessons: 32 hours
Unita' didattica 2
BIO/01 - GENERAL BOTANY - University credits: 0
BIO/05 - ZOOLOGY - University credits: 0
BIO/10 - BIOCHEMISTRY - University credits: 0
Lessons: 16 hours