What is Biology? – Biological Science Meaning
Biology is the study of living organisms and their interactions with the living environment. It is also known as biological sciences. The word biology comes from Greek terminology where bios means life, and logous means study. It is a natural science with a wide range of scope. The term biology was independently coined by Karl Friedrich Burdach, Gottfried Reinhold Treviranus, Thomas Beddoes, and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck between 1799 to 1802.
This article focuses on the importance, history and branches of biology. Read further to get an overview of the nature and scope of biological sciences.
Medicine, an important branch of biology, was studied in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, back in 3000 to 1200 BCE. Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, studied the field of biology extensively during 384–322 BCE. He wrote History of Animals, which shed life upon the diversity of life found on Earth. Later, his successor, Theophrastus, wrote a series of books on botany that gave a plethora of information about plant science.
Rhazes al-Jahiz and Al-Dīnawarī were great Islamic scholars that shed light upon anatomy and physiology. The study of biology gained huge traction when Anton von Leeuwenhoek improved the microscope, which gave more insight into biological techniques, such as dissection and staining.
After that, Schleiden and Schwann gave the cell theory, explaining the importance of the cell in 1838. Carl Linnaeus gave insights into taxonomy, Darwin and Lamarck studied evolution, Mendel gave concepts of genetics, Hershey and Chase, and Watson and Crick studied molecular biology. All these contributions led to the stage where the study of living organisms has reached today in the 21st century.
Broadly, biology can be divided into three fields: botany (study of plants), zoology (study of animals) and microbiology (study of microorganisms). But advances in biological studies have led to the evolution of new branches and technologies.
The study of the structure and function of living organisms is associated with physiology and histology. The applied biology field is known as biotechnology. The biotechnology scope is vast and ongoing. The study of the environment is related to ecology, environmental science and biogeography. The study of change and development in organisms can be studied under evolution, embryology and genetics.
Many fields have shaken hands with biology and given birth to new branches, such as biochemistry, biophysics and biostatistics.
Biological science is a vast field that gives several career opportunities to students. While all the fields related to biology cannot be listed here, some important ones are described below.
The first and foremost important field of biology is medicine. We live in a world of constant changes that affect our bodies. The environment, with its temperature change, pressure change and variety of microorganisms, can give diseases which need to be cured. Industries such as food, textile, dairy, leather, paper, and jute use animal and plant products as raw materials.
Agricultural study is a field of biology that helps in maintaining the quality and quantity of crops. It is also associated with the study of pests and pesticides and fertilisers used to get rid of them. Laboratories in India perform experiments and studies on living organisms that help in the advancement of biology. Genetic engineering is a rising field of biotechnology where recombinant DNA is produced to improve the genome of an organism.
Bioinformatics is the study of biology with computer science that can be used to tabulate data related to the human genome. Biochemistry is related to the study of the chemical history of macromolecules such as proteins, nucleic acids and carbohydrates and cellular processes. Ecologists and environmental scientists maintain flora and fauna of our environment and also help in the conservation of the biosphere.
Forensic science is used in analysing the evidence obtained from a crime site. Pharmacists are responsible for dispensing only the prescribed medicines to the patient.
- Amniocentesis: Amniocentesis is a prenatal test that is performed to check if the embryo growing inside the mother is developing healthy or not. This test is being misused by checking the sex of the child and aborting it, if it is a girl. Many steps have been taken to ban this practice.
- Bioterrorism: Genetic engineering is being used to make antibiotic-resistant microorganisms that are known as bioweapons. For example,the release of the spores of Bacillus anthracis,which is commonly used in laboratories, can lead to anthrax and plague in the population.
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