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Reproduction in Organisms
Asexual Reproduction
The period through which a certain organism lives is known as its life
Reproduction is the process by which every organism ensures its
It is the process through which organisms produce young ones, which
in turn mature to give rise to their young ones.
Reproduction can be:
o Asexual Only one individual is involved
o Sexual Two individuals (male and female) are involved
Asexual Reproduction
In this type, a single parent can produce offspring.
The produced offspring are clones of each other (i.e., identical to
each other and to the parent).
It is commonly seen in unicellular organisms belonging to protista and
Here, the cell division itself is the mode of reproduction.
Means of Asexual Reproduction
Binary Fission In this process, the cell divides into halves, and
each half develops into an adult (example: Amoeba, Paramecium).
Budding In this process, the cell divides unequally to form buds,
which remain attached to the parent initially, and then detach and
develop into a mature cell (example: yeast).
Formation of specialized structures
o Conidia (Example: Penicillium)
o Gemmules (Example: Sponges)
o Buds (Example: Hydra)
o Zoospores Microscopic, motile spores (Example: Algae)

Vegetative propagation It means of asexual reproduction in

plants. Different structures are capable of giving rise to new plants.
o Runner (Example: Gladiolus)
o Rhizome (Example: Ginger)
o Sucker
o Tuber (Example: Potato)
o Offset
o Bulb (Example: Onion)
Sexual Reproduction: Pre-Fertilisation Events
Sexual reproduction involves the formation of the male and female
gametes in either the same individual or two individuals. These
gametes fuse to form a zygote, which develops into a new individual.
Offspring are not identical to each other or to the parents. So, sexual
reproduction gives rise to diversity among living organisms.
All organisms pass through two stages.
o Juvenile phase Period of growth; non reproductive
o Vegetative phase or reproductive phase
In non-primate mammals like rats, sheep, dogs, cows and tigers, the
cyclic change in the activities of the ovaries and the oviduct is called
the oestrus cycle; in primates like monkeys, apes and humans, it is
called the menstrual cycle.
Certain mammals are called continuous breeders since they can
reproduce throughout their reproductive phase, while some are called
seasonal breeders since they can reproduce only in the favourable
Events in Sexual Reproduction
Organisms reproducing sexually exhibit certain events. These are:
o Pre-fertilisation events
o Fertilisation events
o Post-fertilisation events
Pre-Fertilisation Events
Events taking place before the fusion of the gametes
Consist of:
o Gametogenesis
o Gamete transfer

Process of formation of gametes (male and female)
Gametes are haploid
In some organisms (like algae), they are almost similar (homo or
isogametes), and cannot be categorised as male and female
In others, the two gametes are morphologically and physiologically
different (heterogametes), and are of two typesantherozoid or
sperm (male gamete) and egg or ovum (female gamete).
In some organisms both the sexes are present in the same individual
(monoecious or homothallic), and in others, they are present in two
individuals (dioecious or heterothallic).
In a unisexual flower, the male flower is called staminate and the
female flower is called pistillate.
Gamete formation takes place by cell division.
In haploid parents, it is by mitosis; in diploid parents, it is by meiosis,
with specialised cells called meiocytes undergoing meiosis.
.Gamete Transfer
For their fusion to take place, the gametes need to be transferred.
In most organisms, the male gametes are motile, while the female
gametes are non-motile, and the male gametes need a medium for
their movement. A large number of male gametes do not make it to
the female gamete, and hence, several thousands of male gametes
are produced to overcome this loss.
In angiosperms, the pollen grain carries the male gamete and the
ovule carries the female gamete.
Pollen grains are produced in the anther and need to be transferred
to the stigma for fertilisation to occur. This is easy in monoecious
plants as both the anther and the stigma are present close by; in
dioecious plants, it takes place by pollination.
Sexual Reproduction: Fertilisation Events
Fertilisation is the most important event in sexual reproduction.
This process is also called syngamy and leads to the formation of
the zygote.

However, in some organisms, zygote formation takes place without

fertilisation, and is known as parthenogenesis (occurs in rotifers,
honeybees and some lizards).
In most aquatic organisms and amphibians, fertilisation takes place
outside their body (in the water), and is termed as external
fertilization.Their eggs and offspring are highly vulnerable to
predators and this threatens their survival up to adulthood.
In most terrestrial organisms, fertilisation is internal, i.e., it takes place
inside the female body. In this process, the male gamete is motile and
reaches the female gamete to fuse with it, thereby forming zygote.
Male gametes are produced in large numbers.
Sexual Reproduction: Post-Fertilisation Events
Events taking place after fertilisation are called post-fertilisation
The haploid gametes fuse to form a diploid zygote in all organisms.
In external fertilisation, a zygote is formed in an external medium, and
in internal fertilisation, a zygote is formed inside the individual.
The development of a zygote depends upon the life cycle of an
organism and its surroundings. In some organisms, the zygote does
not develop immediately, and develops a thick wall around itself. This
wall is resistant to damage and desiccation.
It is the process of development of the embryo from the zygote.
The zygote undergoes cell division and differentiation.
Cell division increases the number of cells of the embryo, and cell
differentiation helps the cells undergo modifications to form
specialised tissues and organs.
Animals can be grouped into two categories based on how and where
the development of the zygote takes place. These categories are:
o Oviparous The fertilised egg is covered by a calcareous shell
and is released into the outside environment. The development
takes place inside the egg and the young one hatches out
(example: birds and reptiles).

o Viviparous The development of the zygote takes place inside

the female body, and the developed young one is delivered
outside (example: mammals, including humans).
In flowering plants, the zygote is formed inside the ovule.
o Zygote Develops into Embryo
o Ovule Develops into Seed
o Ovary Develops into Fruit Contains Seeds
Disperse and germinate to form new plants

Sexual Reproduction in Flowering Plants

Pre-Fertilisation Events
Several hormonal and structural changes result in the development of
a flower.
Inflorescences bear the flower buds, and then the flowers.
Flowers are the reproductive parts of a plant.
In the flowers, the androecium (male reproductive part) and the
gynoecium (female reproductive part) develop.

The androecium consists of whorls of stamen.
The stamen consists of the filament (long and slender stalk) and
anther (bilobed structure).
Filament is attached to the thalamus or to the petal.

o A typical anther is bilobed and each lobe is dithecous (consists

of two theca).
o Theca are separated by a longitudinal groove running
o The microsporangia are located at the corners, two in each
theca. They further develop to form pollen sacs, which contain
the pollen grains.

Structure of microsporangium
o The microsporangium is surrounded by four wall layers
(epidermis, endothecium, middle layers, and tapetum).
o The outer three layers are protective and help in dehiscence of
anther to release the pollen grains. The tapetum provides
nourishment to the developing pollen grains.
o In the young anther, the sporogenous tissue forms the centre of
each microsporangium.

It is the process of formation of microspore from PMC (Pollen Mother
As development occurs in the anther, the sporogenous tissue
undergoes meiosis to form microspore tetrad.
Each cell of sporogenous tissue has capacity to give rise to a tetrad.
Hence, each cell is a potential pollen or PMC.
As the anther matures, the microspores get detached from each other
and develop into pollen grains.
Pollen grains
Represent the male gamete and are spherical, having a two-layered
o Exine (outer) Hard layer made of sporopollenin, which is
extremely resistant and can withstand high temperatures, acidic
and alkaline conditions, and enzymes
o Intine (inner) Thin and continuous layer made up of cellulose
and pectin
Mature pollen grain contains two cells:
o Vegetative cell Large with irregular nucleus, contains food
o Generative cell Small and floats in the cytoplasm of the
vegetative cell

In 60% of the angiosperms, pollen grains are shed at 2-celled stage

while in others generative cell undergoes mitosis to form two male
gametes (3-celled stage).
The viability of pollen grains after they are shed depends upon
temperature and humidity. It ranges from 30 minutes to few months.
Gynoecium and Formation of Female Gametophyte
The gynoecium represents the female reproductive part of a flower.
It may be mono-carpellary (one pistil) or multi-carpellary (many
pistils). In multi-carpellary, the pistils may be fused in one
(syncarpous) or free (apocarpous).
Each pistil consists of:
o Stigma Receives the pollen grains
o Style Elongated, slender part below the stigma
o Ovary Bulged basal part containing the placenta, which is
located inside the ovarian locule (cavity)
o The placenta contains the megasporangia or ovules.


The ovule is attached to the placenta by the funicle. The junction of

the ovule and the funicle is called hilum.
Each ovule has one or two protective layers, called integuments,
which cover the rest of the ovule, except for a small opening called
The chalaza lying on the opposite side of the micropyle end
represents the basal part of the ovule.
Nucellus is present within the integuments and contains reserved
food. The embryo sac or female gametophyte is located within the

The megaspore mother cell (MMC) gets converted into megaspores
by the process of megasporogenesis.
The MMC is large and contains a dense cytoplasm and a prominent
nucleus. It undergoes meiosis to produce four megaspores.
Female Gametophyte
In most flowering plants, only one megaspore is functional while the
other three degenerate.
The single functional megaspore develops into the female
gametophyte. This kind of development is called monosporic
The nucleus of the functional megaspore divides mitotically to form 2
nuclei, which move towards the opposite ends, forming a 2-nucleate
embryo sac. Two more mitotic divisions ensue, leading to the
formation of 4-nucleate and 8-nucleate embryo sacs.
After the 8-nucleate stage, the cell walls are laid down and the typical
female gametophyte (embryo sac) gets organised.


Six of the 8-nuclei get surrounded by the cell wall and the remaining
two, called polar nuclei, are situated below the egg apparatus in the
large central cell.
Three of the six cells are placed at the micropylar end and constitute
the egg apparatus (2 synergids + 1 egg cell).
The synergids have special thickenings at the micropylar end. These
are together called the filiform apparatus. It helps in leading the
pollen tubes into the synergids.
Three cells are at the chalazal end, and are called antipodal cells.
A typical angiosperm female gametophyte is 7-celled and 8-nucleated
at maturity.

It is the process of transfer of pollen grains from the anther to the
Depending on the source of pollen, pollination can be divided as
o Autogamy It is the transfer of pollen grains from the anther to
the stigma of the same flower. Autogamy requires the anther
and the stigma to lie close. It also requires synchrony in the
pollen release and stigma receptivity.
Plants like Viola, Oxalis, etc., produce two kinds of flowers
chasmogamous flowers (with exposed anther and stigma)
and cleistogamous flowers (which do not open at all and only
autogamy occurs).
o Geitonogamy It is the transfer of pollens from the anther of
one flower to the stigma of another flower in the same plant.
Genetically, it is similar to autogamy, but it requires pollinating


o Xenogamy It is the transfer of pollen grains from the anther

to the stigma of a different plant. Pollination causes genetically
different types of pollens to be brought to a plant.
Agents of Pollination
Plants use air, water (abiotic agents) and animals (biotic agents) for
Pollination by wind
o It is the most common form of abiotic pollination.
o Plants possess well-exposed stamens and large, feathery
o Pollens should be light and non-sticky to be carried easily by
o Wind-pollinated flowers often have single ovule in the ovary and
numerous flowers packed in an inflorescence.
o It is common in grass.
Pollination by water
o It is rare in flowering plants, except for some aquatic plants like
Vallisneria and Hydrilla.
o In most water-pollinated plants, the pollen grains are long and
ribbon-like, and are protected from wetting by mucilaginous
o In a majority of water plants like water hyacinth and water lily,
flowers emerge above the water level and are pollinated by
Pollination by animals
o Majority of flowering plants use butterflies, bees, wasps etc., for
o Most of the insect-pollinated flowers are large, colourful,
fragrant, and contain nectar to attract the animal pollinators.
These are called floral rewards.
o Floral reward can be in the form of providing safe places to lay
eggs (example: the tallest flower, Amorphophallus)
o A symbiotic relationship exists between the plant, Yucca and its
pollinator moth. The moth is dependent on the plant since the
moth deposits its eggs in the locule of the ovary of the plant,
and in return, the plant is pollinated by the moth.
o The pollen grains are sticky and get stuck to the body of the


Out Breeding Devices

Repeated self pollination leads to inbreeding depression.
Plants have developed methods to prevent self pollination. Autogamy
is prevented by following ways:
o Pollen release and stigma receptivity not coordinated
o Different positioning of the anther and the stigma
o Production of unisexual flowers
Ways to prevent both autogamy and geitonogamy:
o Presence of male and female flowers on different plants, such
that each plant is either male or female (dioecy).
o This mechanism is present in several species of papaya.
PollenPistil Interactions
Pollination does not always ensure the transfer of compatible pollens.
Hence, the pistil has the ability to recognise the right type of pollen to
promote post- pollination events.
If the pollen is of the wrong type, the pistil prevents pollen
This interaction is mediated by chemical components of the pollen
and the pistil.
Pollenpistil interaction is a dynamic process involving pollen
recognition, followed by promotion or inhibition of the pollen.
The pollen tube reaches the ovary and enters the ovule through the
micropyle. Then, through the filiform apparatus, it reaches synergids.
In this way, the pollen tube grows.
Artificial Hybridisation & Double Fertilisation
Artificial Hybridisation
It is a method to improve crop yield.
In this method, it is essential to ensure that the right kinds of pollen
grains are used, and the stigma is protected from unwanted pollen
grains. It is achieved by:
o Emasculation The anther is removed from the bud if the
female parent bears bisexual flowers.
o Bagging The emasculated flower is covered by a bag so as
not to allow contamination of the stigma by unwanted pollen


When the stigma of the bagged flower becomes receptive, the

collected pollen grains are dusted onto the stigma, and then the
flower is rebagged.
If the female parent is unisexual, emasculation is not necessary. In
this case, the female bud is directly bagged, and when the stigma
turns receptive, suitable pollen grains are dusted onto it so as to allow
Double Fertilisation
When the pollen grains fall on the stigma, the pollen tube enters one
of the synergids and releases two male gametes.
One of the male gametes moves towards the egg cell and fuses with
it to complete the syngamy to form the zygote.
The other male gamete fuses with the two polar nuclei and forms
triploid primary endosperm nucleus (PEN). This is termed as triple
Since two kinds of fusionsyngamy and triple fusiontake place, the
process is known as double fertilisation, and is characteristic of
flowering plants.
After triple fusion, the central cell becomes the primary endosperm
cell (PEC).
The primary endosperm nucleus gives rise to the endosperm, while
the zygote develops into the embryo.

Post-Fertilisation Events
It includes development of endosperm and embryo, and maturation of
ovules into seeds and ovaries into fruits.


Formation of Endosperm
The endosperm develops before the embryo because the cells of the
endosperm provide nutrition to the developing embryo.
The primary endosperm nucleus repeatedly divides to give rise to
free nuclei. This stage of development is called free nuclear
Cell wall formation occurs next, resulting in a cellular endosperm.
The endosperm may be either fully consumed by the growing embryo
(as in pea and beans) or retained in the mature seed (as in coconut
and castor).
Development of Embryo
The embryo develops at the micropylar end of the embryo sac where
the zygote is situated.
The zygote gives rise first to the pro-embryo, and then to the globular,
heart-shaped, mature embryo.
A typical dicot embryo consists of an embryonal axis and two
The portion of the embryonal axis above the level of cotyledons is
called epicotyl. It contains the plumule (shoot tip). The portion below
the axis is called hypocotyl. It contains the radicle (root tip). The root
tip is covered by the root cap.

In a monocot embryo, there is only one cotyledon. In grass, it is

known as the scutellum, and is situated at one side of the embryonal
axis. At its lower end, the embryonal axis has the radicle and the root
cap enclosed in the coleorrhiza.
The epicotyl lies above the level of the scutellum, and has the shoot
apex and leaf primordia enclosed in hollow structures called


Seeds and Fruits

Development of Seeds
It is the last stage of sexual reproduction in angiosperms.
Seeds are the fertilised ovules that are developed inside a fruit.
A seed consists of:
o Seed coat
o Cotyledons
o Embryonal axis
Seeds may be albuminous (endosperm present; as in wheat and
maize) or non-albuminous (endosperm absent; since it is consumed
by the growing embryo; as in pea and beans).
Some seeds such as black pepper and wheat have remnants of
nucellus known as perisperm.
The integuments of ovules harden to form the seed coat, and the
micropyle facilitates the entry of oxygen and water into the seed.
As it loses moisture, the seed may enter dormancy, or if favourable
conditions exist, it germinates.
Development of Fruits
The ovary of a flower develops into a fruit.
The walls of the ovary transform into the walls of the fruit (pericarp).
Fruits may be fleshy, as in mango and orange, or can be dry, as in
groundnut and mustard.


In some plants, floral parts other than the ovary take part in fruit
formation, as in apple and strawberry. In these, the thalamus
contributes to fruit formation. Such fruits are called false fruits. Fruits
that develop from the ovary are called true fruits.
Some fruits develop without fertilisation, and are known as
parthenocarpic fruits (example: banana).
Apomixis and Polyembryony
Some plants produce seeds without fertilisation. This process of seed
formation is known as apomixis.
Apomixis is a form of asexual reproduction mimicking sexual
In some species, apomixis occurs as the diploid egg cell is formed
without meiosis, and develops into embryo without fertilisation.
In some varieties of citrus and mango, the nucellus cells divide and
protrude into the embryo sac to develop into embryos. In such cases,
each ovule may contain several embryos and this condition is called
Apomixis is important for producing hybrid varieties of fruits and
vegetables, and also for increasing crop yield multifold.

Human Reproduction
Male and Female Reproductive Systems
Human beings reproduce sexually and are viviparous.
In humans, the reproductive phase starts after puberty.
It involves:
o Gametogenesis
o Insemination
o Fertilisation
o Implantation
o Gestation
o Parturition


The Male Reproductive System

It is located in the pelvic region.

It consists of:
o A pair of testes
o Accessory glands and ducts
o External genitalia
Situated within the scrotum, which protects the testes and also helps
in maintaining the temperature.
Each testis is 4 to 5 cm in length, and 2 to 3 cm in width, and has
about 250 compartments called testicular lobules.
Testicular lobules have seminiferous tubules which are the sites of
sperm formation.
Seminiferous tubules are lined by two types of cells:
o Male germ cells They undergo meiosis to form sperms.
o Sertoli cells They provide nourishment to the germ cells.
Region outside the seminiferous tubules is called the interstitial
space, which contains Leydig cells (interstitial cells). The Leydig
cells produce androgens.
Accessory Ducts and Glands
Accessory ducts include:
o Rete testis
o Vasa efferentia
o Epididymis
o Vas deferens


The seminiferous tubules open into the vasa efferentia through the
rete testis.
The vasa efferentia open into the epididymis, which leads to the vas
deferens. The vas deferens opens into the urethra along with a duct
from the seminal vesicle called the ejaculatory duct.
The ejaculatory duct stores the sperms and transports them to the
The urethra starts from the urinary bladder, extends through the penis
and opens via the urethral meatus.
Accessory glands include:
o A pair of seminal vesicles
o Prostate gland
o A pair of bulbourethral glands
The secretions of these glands make up the seminal plasma, and
provide nutrition and a medium of motility to the sperms.
The Female Reproductive System

It is located in the pelvic region:

It includes:
o A pair of ovaries
o A pair of oviducts
o Uterus
o Cervix
o Vagina
o External genitalia
o Mammary glands (not part of the reproductive system, but aids
in child care)


They are the primary female sex organs. They produce the ovum and
other ovarian hormones.
They are located in the lower abdomen, and are 2 to 4 cm in length.
They are connected by ligaments to the pelvic walls and to the
Each ovary is covered by epithelium, and contains the ovarian
The ovarian stroma is made up of:
o Peripheral cortex
o Inner medulla
They are also called fallopian tubes.
They are 10 to 12 cm long, and extend from the ovary to the uterus.
The part of each oviduct lying towards the ovary is funnel shaped,
and is called infundibulum. It has finger-like projections called
The infundibulum leads to the ampulla, and then to the isthmus,
which has a narrow lumen opening into the uterus.
It is also called womb, and is pear shaped.
It is connected to the pelvic walls by ligaments.
The uterine wall consists of:
o External perimetrium
o Middle myometrium
o Internal endometrium, which lines the uterine cavity
The endometrium undergoes changes during the menstrual cycle.
Cervix and Vagina
The cervix connects the uterus to the vagina.
The cervix and the vagina constitute the birth canal.
External Genitalia
Consists of:
o Mons pubis Fatty tissue covered by skin and pubic hair


o Labia majora Extends from mons pubis and surrounds the

vaginal opening
o Labia minora Fold of skin beneath the labia majora
o Hymen Partially covers the vaginal opening
o Clitoris Lies at the junction of labia minora
Mammary Glands
Present in all female mammals
It is paired and is glandular.
Each breast contains 15 to 20 mammary lobes with alveoli which
secrete milk.
The alveoli open into the mammary tubules, which unite to form a
mammary duct.
Many mammary ducts constitute the mammary ampulla, which is
connected to the lactiferous duct.
The testis and ovary produce the male and female gametes respectively by
gametogenesis (spermatogenesis in males and oogenesis in females).


In males, sperms are produced by the spermatogonia (immature

germ cells), which are present in the inner walls of the seminiferous
Spermatogonia increase in number by mitosis. These are diploid.
Some of the spermatogonia called primary spermatocytes
periodically undergo meiosis.
After the first meiotic division, two haploid and equal secondary
spermatocytes are formed.
These further undergo meiosis to give rise to four haploid
These spermatids are converted into sperms by spermiogenesis.
The sperm head gets embedded in the Sertoli cells after
spermiogenesis and is released from the seminiferous tubules by
Spermatogenesis starts at puberty by the action of the gonadotropin
releasing hormone (GnRH), which in turn causes the release of two
gonadotropins called Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle
Stimulating Hormone (FSH).
LH acts on Leydig cells and causes them to release androgens,
which stimulate the process of spermatogenesis while the FSH acts
on the Sertoli cells, which help in spermiogenesis.
Structure of a Sperm

A mature sperm consists of:

o Head


o Neck
o Middle piece
o Tail
The whole sperm is enclosed in a plasma membrane.
The head consists of a haploid nucleus and a cap-like acrosome,
which contains enzymes that aid in fertilisation.
The middle piece contains several mitochondria, which produce
energy for the motility of the sperm.
Sperms released by the seminiferous tubules are transported by the
accessory ducts.
Secretions of epididymis, vas deferens, seminal vesicles, and
prostate are essential for maturation and motility of sperms.



The ovum is formed by the process of oogenesis.

It starts during embryonic growth and millions of gamete mother cells
(oogonia) are formed in the foetal ovary.
These cells undergo meiosis, but get temporarily arrested at the
prophase and are called primary oocytes.
Before reaching puberty, a large number of primary oocytes
degenerate and the remaining ones get surrounded by layers of
granulosa cells and new theca and are called secondary follicles.
The secondary follicles are then converted into tertiary follicles that
have characteristic fluid-filled cavity called antrum. At this stage, the
primary oocyte present within the tertiary follicle completes meiosis,
which results in the formation of haploid secondary oocyte and a tiny
polar body.
This tertiary follicle further changes into the Graafian follicle. The
secondary oocyte is surrounded by the zone pellucida.
Then the Graafian follicle ruptures to release the ovum by ovulation.

Menstrual Cycle & Fertilisation


Menstrual cycle is the reproductive cycle in all primates and begins at

puberty (menarche).
In human females, menstruation occurs once in 28 to 29 days. The
cycle of events starting from one menstruation till the next one is
called the menstrual cycle.
During the middle of the menstrual cycle, one ovum is released
The cycle starts with the menstrual flow (3 to 5 days), caused due to
the breakdown of the endometrium of the uterus. Blood vessels in
liquid state are discharged, but this occurs only when the ovum is not
It is followed by the follicular phase.In this phase, the primary
follicles mature into the Graffian follicles. This causes the
regeneration of the endometrium.
These changes are brought about by ovarian and pituitary hormones.
In this phase, the release of gonadotropins (LH and FSH) increases.
This causes follicular growth and the growing follicles produce


The LH and FSH are at their peak in the middle of the cycle (14 th
day), and cause the rupture of the Graffian follicles to release ovum.
This phase is called the ovulatory phase.
The remains of the Graffian follicles get converted into the corpus
luteum, which secretes progesterone for the maintenance of the
In the absence of fertilisation, the corpus luteum degenerates,
thereby causing the disintegration of the endometrium and the start of
a new cycle.
In humans, the menstrual cycle ceases to operate at the age of 50
years. This phase is known as the menopause.
Fertilisation and Implantation
During coitus, the semen is released into the vagina, passes through
the cervix of the uterus and reaches the ampullary-isthmic junction of
the fallopian tube.
The ovum is also released into the junction for fertilisation to occur.
The process of fusion of the sperm and the ovum is known as
During fertilisation, the sperm induces changes in the zona pellucida
and blocks the entry of other sperms. This ensures that only one
sperm fertilises an ovum.
The enzymatic secretions of the acrosomes help the sperm enter the
cytoplasm of the ovum.
This causes the completion of meiotic division of the secondary
oocyte, resulting in the formation of a haploid ovum (ootid) and a
secondary polar body.
Then, the haploid sperm nucleus fuses with the haploid nucleus of
the ovum to form a diploid zygote.
Mitosis starts as the zygote moves through the isthmus of the oviduct
(cleavage) and forms 2, 4, 8, 16 daughter cells called blastomeres.
The 816 cell embryo is called a morula, which continues to divide to
form the blastocyst. The morula moves further into the uterus.
The cells in the blastocyst are arranged into an outer trophoblast
and an inner cell mass.
The trophoblast gets attached to the uterine endometrium, and the
process is called implantation. This leads to pregnancy.
The inner cell mass gets differentiated to form the embryo.


Pregnancy, Parturition and Lactation

After implantation, the trophoblast forms finger-like projections called
chorionic villi, surrounded by the uterine tissue and maternal blood.
The chorionic villi and the uterine tissue get integrated to form the
placenta, which helps in supplying the developing embryo with
oxygen and nutrients, and is also involved in the removal of wastes.
The placenta is connected to the embryo by the umbilical cord. The
placenta acts as an endocrine gland, and produces the human
chorionic gonadotropins, human placental lactogen, oestrogen,
progesterone and relaxin (later stages of pregnancy).
These hormones support foetal growth and help in the maintenance
of pregnancy. Hormones like oestrogen, progestogen, cortisol,
prolactin, etc., are increased several folds in the maternal blood.
Immediately after implantation, the inner cell mass (embryo) gets
differentiated into the ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm, which
give rise to the different tissues. This ability of the inner cell mass is
due to the presence of multi-potent cells called stem cells.
Most of the major organs are formed at the end of 12 weeks of
pregnancy; during the 5th month, the limbs and body hair are formed;
by the 24th week, the eyelids separate and eyelashes are formed. At
the end of nine months, the foetus is fully formed.
Parturition and Lactation
Human pregnancy has the duration of 9 months. This duration is
called the gestation period.
At the end of this period, vigorous uterine contractions lead to the
delivery of the foetus. This process is called parturition.
Parturition is a neuro-endocrine mechanism, and is started by the
signals from the developed foetus and the placenta, which produce
the foetal ejection reflex.
This causes the release of oxytocin from the pituitary, which causes
stronger uterine contractions.
This leads to the expulsion of the baby along with the placenta.


During pregnancy, the mammary glands undergo differentiation, and

milk is produced during the end of pregnancy.
The milk produced during the first few days of lactation is known as
colostrums.It contains several antibodies that aid the newborn to
develop resistance.

Reproductive Health
Reproductive Health
It is defined as the total well being in all aspects of reproduction.
India as a country ensures reproductive health to all, and since 1951,
successive governments have introduced a number of programmes
to ensure this, e.g., family planning and RCH (Reproductive and
Child Healthcare) programmes.
The aim of these programmes is to create awareness among people
about the various aspects of reproductive health.
Several audio-visual aids and pamphlets have been developed by
both governmental and non-governmental organisations.
Awareness is being created among school children by introducing
sex education in schools.
It is essential to provide medical assistance to people with problems
related to STDs, pregnancy, contraception and infertility, especially in
Amniocentesis (foetal sex determination based on chromosomal
pattern) has been banned to check female foeticide.
Population Explosion
Improvement in the quality of life due to all-round development (better
health facilities and improved conditions of living) has lead to a large
increase in the world population (around 1 billion in the year 2000).
The causes of population explosion are:
o Decline in death rate (including maternal mortality rate and
infant mortality rate)
o Increase in the number of people in the reproducible age
Population explosion causes a scarcity of every basic need.


Therefore, it has become essential to check this increase in

One-child norm, increasing the marriageable age and promoting
contraceptive methods are some of the ways to check population
Birth Control
It is essential to ensure birth control to check population explosion.
Successive governments have come out with various programmes
that encourage smaller families by means of various contraceptive
Contraceptive methods are of two types:
o Natural means of contraception
o Artificial means of contraception
Natural Methods
Avoiding the coming together of ovum and sperm
o Periodic abstinence:Avoiding coitus from days 10 to 17 of the
menstrual cycle
o Coitus interruptus: Withdrawal of penis before ejaculation
o Lactational amenorrhea: It is the absence of menstruation
during lactation. So, in the lactation period, the chances of
conception are almost zero.
Artificial Methods
Physically preventing the coming together of ovum and sperm
o Barriers: Include condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps and
o Intra uterine devices (IUDs): They release hormones to cause
phagocytosis of sperms, or they release copper ions to
decrease sperm motility.
o Oral contraceptive pills: They contain hormoneseither
progesterone or progesteroneoestrogen combination.
o Surgical methods: Include vasectomy (removal of a part of the
vas deferens in males) and tubectomy (removal of a part of the
fallopian tubes in females)
Medical Termination of Pregnancy & Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP)
Intentional or voluntary termination of pregnancy before the full term


Also called induced abortion

Has a role in decreasing population; becomes essential when
continued pregnancy may prove to be fatal to the mother, foetus or to
In India, MTP is legal, but with certain strict conditions so as to
prevent female foeticide.
But in some places, MTP is used with amniocentesis, and when the
foetus is female, it is aborted. Such practices can prove to be fatal to
the mother as well.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Diseases which are transmitted sexually are called STDs.
Also called venereal diseases (VD) or reproductive tract
infections (RTI)
Some of the STDs are:
o Gonorrhoea
o Syphilis
o Chlamydiasis
o Genital herpes
o Genital warts
o Trichomoniasis
o Hepatitis-B
o AIDS (can also be transmitted by sharing injection needles or
surgical instruments, blood transfusion, and from the infected
mother to the foetus )
With the exception of AIDS, genital herpes and hepatitis-B, other
diseases are curable.
When not detected and treated in time, they can lead to pelvic
inflammatory diseases, abortions, still births, ectopic pregnancies,
infertility and even cancer.
Therefore, prevention, and timely detection and cure of these
diseases are essential to ensure reproductive health.
Some of the preventive measures are:
o Avoiding sex with unknown/multiple partners
o Use of condoms
o To check with a doctor when in doubt
Many couples all over the world are unable to produce children.


Some of the reasons for infertility are:

o Congenital diseases
o Drugs
o Immunological and Psychological factors
Specialised fertility clinics can help diagnose and treat infertility.
The couples can be assisted to have children through techniques
called assisted reproductive technologies (ART).
Assisted Reproductive Technologies
In vitro fertilisation (IVF): Fertilisation takes place outside the body
(test tube baby). The following techniques are included in IVF.
o ZIFT It stands for zygote intra fallopian transfer. In ZIFT, the
sperm from a donor male and the ova from a donor female are
fused in the laboratory. The zygote so formed is transferred into
the fallopian tube at the 8 blastomeres stage.
o IUT It stands for intra uterine transfer. In this technique,
embryos with more than 8 blastomeres are transferred into the
o GIFT It stands for gamete intra fallopian transfer. In GIFT,
females who cannot produce ovum, but can provide suitable
conditions for the fertilisation of ovum, are provided with ovum
from a donor.
o ICSI It stands for intra cytoplasmic sperm injection. In this
method, sperm is directly injected into the cytoplasm of the
o Artificial insemination In this technique, the semen
collected from the husband or a donor is injected into the
vagina or uterus. This cures the infertility arising from the
inability of the male partner to ejaculate, or due to low sperm


Genetics is a branch of biology dealing with inheritance and variation
of characters from parents of offspring.
Process by which characters are passed on from parent to progeny
Degree by which the progeny differs from its parents
Mendels Experiments
Gregor Johann Mendel known as the father of genetics proposed the
laws of inheritance.


He used garden pea as his sample.

Large sampling size gave credibility to his collected data.
Garden pea plant possessed certain completely opposite traits.
Example tall and dwarf plants
He worked on the following seven traits of garden pea:

S. No.




Stem height



Flower colour



Flower position



Pod shape



Pod colour



Seed shape



Seed colour




True breeding pea lines were obtained by continuous self pollination

for several generations.
Fourteen true breeding pea lines were selected as pairs, which were
similar except for one character with contrasting traits.
Artificial cross pollination (hybridisation) was performed on such
varieties to obtain first hybrid generation known as the first filial
progeny or F1.
Inheritance of One Gene
After hybridisation, the F1 generation so obtained resembled only one
of its parents (say, all tall; no dwarf).
When 2 plants from F1 generation were self pollinated, the second
filial progeny or F2 generation was obtained.
Revival of unexpressed trait (dwarf) was observed in some F 2
progeny. Both traits, tall and dwarf, were expressed in F 2 in ratio 3:1.
Mendel proposed that something is being passed unchanged from
generation to generation. He called these things as factors
(presently called genes).
Factors contain and carry hereditary information.
Alleles Slightly different form of same factor
Two alleles code for a pair of two contrasting traits. (e.g., tall and dwarf)
Monohybrid Cross
Cross that considers only a single character (e.g., height of the part)


Studying the cross:

o TT, tt, and Tt are genotypes while the traits, tall and dwarf, are
o T stands for tall trait while t stands for dwarf trait.
o Even if a single T is present in the genotype, phenotype is
tall. When T and t are present together, T dominates and
suppresses the expression of t. Therefore, T (for tallness) is
dominant trait while t (for dwarfness) is recessive trait.
o TT and tt are homozygous while Tt is heterozygous.
o From the cross, it can be found that alleles of parental pair
separate or segregate from each other and only one allele is
transmitted to the gamete.
o Gametes of TT will have only T alleles; gametes of tt will have
only t alleles, but gametes of Tt will have both T and t alleles.
Punnett square
o Graphical representation to calculate the probability of all
possible genotypes of offsprings in a genetic cross


o Possible gametes are written on two sides, usually at top row

and left columns, and combinations are represented in boxes.

o With the help of Punnet square, genotypic ratio in F 2 generation

can be found. From the above given Punnet square, it is
evident that genotypic ratio TT: Tt: tt is 1:2:1.
o The ratio 1:2:1 or
of TT: Tt: tt can be derived from
binomial expression (ax + by)2.
o Gamete-bearing genes are in equal frequency of

o Hence, the expression can be expanded as

Law of Dominance, Test Cross, Law of Segregation & Incomplete



Mendels Laws of Inheritance

Based on his experiments, Mendel proposed three laws or principles
of inheritance:
o Law of Dominance
o Law of Segregation
o Law of Independent Assortment
Law of dominance and law of segregation are based on monohybrid
cross while law of independent assortment is based on dihybrid
Law of Dominance
According to this law, characters are controlled by discrete units
called factors, which occur in pairs with one member of the pair
dominating over the other in a dissimilar pair.
This law explains expression of only one of the parental character in
F1 generation and expression of both in F2 generation.
Test Cross
Cross between F2 progeny and its homozygous recessive parent
This cross determines whether the dominant character is coming
from homozygous dominant genotype or heterozygous genotype.
(e.g., tallness coming from TT or Tt)
When TT is crossed with tt, we obtain all Tt (tall) individuals in the
progeny. Whereas when Tt is crossed with tt, we obtain Tt (tall) and tt
(dwarf) individuals in the progeny.


Therefore, if tallness is coming from TT, then we obtain all tall

progenies in test cross. We obtain both tall and dwarf varieties in test
cross, if tallness is coming from Tt.

Law of Segregation
This law states that the two alleles of a pair segregate or separate
during gamete formation such that a gamete receives only one of the
two factors.
In homozygous parents, all gametes produced are similar; while in
heterozygous parents, two kinds of gametes are produced in equal
Incomplete Dominance
In incomplete dominance, F1 generation has a phenotype that does
not resemble either of the two parents, but is a mixture of the two.
Example Flower colour in dog flower (snapdragon), where:
o RR Red flowers


o rr White flowers
o Rr Pink flowers
Here, genotypic ratio remains same as in Mendelian crosses, but
phenotypic ratio changes since complete dominance is not shown by
R (hence, incomplete dominance).

Phenotypic Ratio 1:2:1 that denotes Red: Pink: White

Genotypic Ratio 1:2:1 that denotes RR: Rr: rr
What is Dominance?
A diploid organism produces two copies of a gene, which need not be
identical and may have minor alterations.
Suppose a normal gene produces a product P. Then, the altered
version of it must produce a non-functional product P or no product
at all.


The altered version of the gene must not perform the functions that a
normal gene performs. It must affect the phenotype.
The original gene is said to be dominant while the modified gene is
Law of Segregation and Co-dominance
In co-dominance, the F1 progeny resembles both the parents.
Example: ABO blood groups in human beings
ABO blood groups are controlled by gene I. Gene I has three alleles,
I A, I B and i. A person possesses any two of the three alleles.
IA and I B dominate over i. But with each other, IA and IB are codominant.
IA and I B contain A and B types of sugar, while i does not contain any

Allele from
Parent 1

Allele from
Parent 2

Genotype of

Blood type of





















Multiple alleles: When more than two alleles control a character, as in

human blood groups
o Multiple alleles are used in population studies.
Inheritance of Two Genes (Dihybrid Cross) & Law of Independent

Inheritance of Two Genes (Dihybrid Cross)

In dihybrid cross, we consider two characters. (e.g., seed colour and
seed shape)
Yellow colour and round shape is dominant over green colour and
wrinkled shape.


Phenotypic ratio 9:3:3:1

Round yellow 9
Round green 3
Wrinkled yellow 3
Wrinkled green 1
Law of independent Assortment
When two pairs of traits are combined in a hybrid, one pair of
character segregates independent of the other pair of character.
In a dihybrid cross between two plants having round yellow (RRYY)
and wrinkled green seeds (rryy), four types of gametes (RY, Ry, rY,
ry) are produced. Each of these segregate independent of each other,
each having a frequency of 25% of the total gametes produced.
Chromosomal Theory of Inheritance
Rediscovery of Mendels Work


Mendels work remained unrecognised for several years because of

the following reasons.
o Lack of communication and publicity
o His concept of factors (genes) as discrete units that did not
blend with each other was not accepted in the light of variations
occurring continuously in nature.
o Mendels approach to explain biological phenomenon with the
help of mathematics was also not accepted.
o In 1990, three scientists Hugo deVries, Correns and Von
Tschermak independently rediscovered Mendels work.
Chromosomal Theory of Inheritance
By 1900, due to the advancement in microscopy, chromosomes were
also discovered.
Sutton and Bovery discovered that the behaviour of chromosomes
was parallel to the behaviour of genes.
Chromosomes and genes both occur in pairstwo alleles of a gene
pair are located on homologous sites of homologous
Sutton and Bovery further proposed that it is the pairing and
separation of a pair of chromosomes that ultimately leads to
segregation of the pair of factors they carry.
Union of knowledge of chromosomal segregation with Mendelian
principles constitutes chromosomal theory of inheritance.
Dihybrid Cross in Drosophila to Study Linkage and Recombination
Linkage and Recombination


Thomas Hunt Morgan discovered the basis of variations that sexual

reproduction produced.
He worked on fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster. He chose
Drosophila because of the following reasons:
o They were suitable to grow on synthetic medium in laboratory.
o Their life cycle is complete in two weeks.
o Single mating produces many progeny flies.
o Clear differentiation of sexes Easily distinguishable male and
o Hereditary variations clearly visible with low power microscopes
Morgans experiment
o Dihybrid cross was carried out on fruit flies. Yellow bodied,
white eyed females were crossed with brown bodied, red eyed
o F1 progeny was obtained, which were inter-crossed.
o F2 progeny was obtained and F2 ratio was observed.
o F2 ratio was observed to be significantly different from 9:3:3:1
as observed in Mendelian dihybrid cross.
Explanation of deviation from Mendelian ratio:
o Genes involved are located on X chromosome.
o When two genes are located on the same chromosome, the
proportions of parental gene combinations were much higher
than those of non-parental.


o Linkage Physical association of genes on a chromosome

o Recombination Non-parental gene combination


Alfred Sturtevant utilised the knowledge of frequency of gene

recombination as a measure of physical distance between two genes
and to map their position on chromosomes.
In this way, genetic maps were prepared, which are extensively used
today for genome sequencing projects as in human genome project.
Sex Determination in Various Animals Including Humans-Male and
Female Heterogamety
Sex Determination
Henking discovered the genetic/chromosomal basis of sex
determination by working on insects. He observed specific nuclear
structures during spermatogenesis in insects. He named these
structures as X bodies.
He observed that after spermatogenesis, 50% of the sperm obtained
these structures, while 50% did not.
Later on, it was found that the X body observed by Henking was
actually a chromosome and thus, this chromosome was named X
Chromosomes involved in sex determination are called sex
chromosomes, while the other chromosomes are called autosomes.
XO type of sex determination
o Other than autosomes, at least one X chromosome is present
in all insects.
o Some sperms contain X chromosomes, while some do not.
o Eggs fertilised by sperms having X chromosomes become
females. So, females have two X chromosomes.


o Eggs fertilised by sperms not having X chromosomes become

males. So, males have only one X chromosome.
o Example of organisms with XO type of sex determination
XY type of sex determination
o Males have X chromosome and its counterpart Y chromosome,
which is distinctly smaller. Hence, males are XY.
o Females have a pair of X chromosomes. Hence, females are
o Example of organisms with XY type of sex determination
Humans and Drosophila
Male heterogamety XO and XY types of sex determination are
examples of male heterogamety.
o In XO type, some gametes have X chromosomes, while some
gametes are without X chromosomes.
o In XY type, some gametes have X chromosomes, while some
gametes have Y chromosomes.
Female heterogamety ZW type of sex determination is an example
of female heterogamety.
o In ZW type, the female has one Z and one W chromosome,
while the male has a pair of Z chromosomes.
Mutation, Pedigree Analysis, & Genetic Disorders



Alteration of DNA sequence resulting in changes in genotype and

phenotype of organisms
DNA helix runs in a chromatid, hence any change (insertion or
deletion) in the DNA sequence affects the chromosome.
Point Mutation Mutation arising due to change in single base pair of
DNA as in sickle cell anaemia
Frameshift Mutation Mutations arising due to deletion or insertion in
DNA sequence
Mutagens Chemical or physical agents that lead to mutations
Example UV radiations
Pedigree Analysis
Pedigree analysis is the analysis of inheritance of traits in several
generations of a family.
A particular trait under study is represented in a family tree.
By using pedigree analysis, inheritance of a specific trait, abnormality
or disease, can be traced.
DNA is believed to be the carrier of genetic information, which passes
unaltered from generation to generation. Mutations occasionally alter
the genetic material and genetic diseases are believed to be
associated with these alterations only.
Standard symbols in pedigree analysis are as follows:


Pedigree chart is represented as follows:

Chart (a) represents inheritance of an autosomal dominant trait as in

muscular dystrophy.
Chart (b) represents inheritance of an autosomal recessive trait as in
sickle cell anaemia.
Genetic Disorders
Include Mendelian disorders and chromosomal disorders
Mendelian Disorders


Characterized by mutation in a single gene

Their mode of inheritance follows the principles of Mendelian
Mendelian disorders can be
o autosomal dominant (muscular dystrophy)
o autosomal recessive (sickle cell anaemia)
o sex linked (haemophilia)
o Sex-linked recessive disease
o Transmission From unaffected female (carrier) to male
o Females act as carriers of disease, but rarely suffer from
haemophilia since for a female to become haemophilic, the
mother should be carrier and father should be haemophilic.
o In this disease, protein involved in blood clotting is affected.
Therefore, even a simple cut results in uncontrolled bleeding.
Sickle cell anaemia
o Autosomal recessive disease
o Transmission From parent to offspring when both parents are
carriers of disease
o Pair of alleles HbA and HbS controls the expression of this
HbA and HbA Normal


HbA and HbS Carrier of disease

HbS and HbS Diseased
o Cause of the disease Change in gene causes the
replacement of GAG by GUG leading to the substitution of Glu
by Val at sixth position of beta globin chain of haemoglobin.
o The mutant haemoglobin so formed polymerises at low oxygen
tension, resulting in change in shape of RBC to sickle-like.
o Autosomal recessive disease
o Phenylalanine
The enzyme responsible for this conversion gets mutated.
o Phenylalanine accumulates. Then,
Phenylalanine Phenylpyruvic acid Accumulates in brain
Mental retardation
o Phenylpyruvic acid also gets excreted through urine since
kidneys poorly reabsorb it.
Chromosomal Disorders
Total number of chromosomes in humans = 46 (23 pairs)
Total 23 pairs = Autosomes (22 pairs) + Sex chromosomes (1 pair)
Monosomy Lack of any one pair of chromosomes
Trisomy Inclusion of an additional copy of chromosomes
Aneuploidy Loss or gain of chromosomes due to failure of
segregation of chromatids during cell division


Chromosomal Disorders
Total number of chromosomes in humans = 46 (23 pairs)
Total 23 pairs = Autosomes (22 pairs) + Sex chromosomes (1 pair)
Monosomy Lack of any one pair of chromosomes
Trisomy Inclusion of an additional copy of chromosome
Aneuploidy Loss or gain of chromosomes due to the failure of
segregation of chromatids during cell division
Downs Syndrome
o Cause: Presence of an additional copy of chromosome 21
(Trisomy of 21)
o Affected individual has short stature, small, round head,
furrowed tongue, partially opened mouth, palm crease,
congenital heart disease and mental retardation.
Klinefelter Syndrome
o Cause: Additional copy of X chromosome, i.e., 47
chromosomes (XXY)
o Affected individual has an overall masculine development with
gynaecomastia; individual is sterile
Turners Syndrome
o Cause: Absence of one X chromosome, i.e., 45 chromosomes
(XO).Affected females are sterile; have rudimentary ovaries;
secondary sexual characters are absent



DNA : Structure of Polynucleotide Chain

DNA Polymer of deoxyribonucleotides
Nucleoside = Nitrogenous base + Pentose sugar (linked through N
glycosidic bond)
Example adenosine, deoxyadenosine, cytidine, etc.
Nucleotide = Nucleoside + Phosphate group (linked through
phosphodiester bond)
Many nucleotides link together through 3 5 phosphodiester bond
to form polynucleotide chain (as in DNA and RNA).
In course of formation of polynucleotide chain, a phosphate moiety
remains free at 5 end of ribose sugar (5 end of polymer chain) and


one -OH group remains free at 3 end of ribose (3 end of polymer


Double Helix Model for the Structure of DNA

Scientists involved
o Friedrich Meischer First identified DNA as an acidic
substance present in nucleus and named it as Nuclein
o Wilkins and Franklin Produced X-ray diffraction data for
DNA structure
o Watson and Crick Proposed double helix structure model for
DNA based on X-ray diffraction data
o Erwin Chargaff Proposed that in ds DNA, ratios A:T and C:G
remain same and are equal to one
Features of double helix structure of DNA:
In a DNA, two polynucleotide chains are coiled to form a helix. Sugarphosphate forms backbone of this helix while bases project in wards


to each other.

Complementary bases pair with each other through hydrogen bond.

Purines always pair with their corresponding pyrimidines. Adenine
pairs with thymine through two hydrogen bonds while guanine pairs
with cytosine through three hydrogen bonds.

o The helix is right-handed.

Pitch 3.4 nm
10 bp in each turn


o The plane of one base pair stacks over the other in a double
helix. This provides stability to the helix along with hydrogen
Packaging of DNA Helix
Packaging of DNA Helix
Distance between two consecutive base pairs in a DNA = 0.34 nm =
0.34 109 m
Total number of base pairs in a human DNA = 6.6 10 9 bp
Total length of human DNA = 0.34 109 6.6 109
= ~ 2.2 m
2.2 m is too large to be accommodated in the nucleus (10 6 m).
Organisation of DNA in prokaryotes:
o They do not have nucleus. DNA is scattered.
o In certain regions called nucleoids, DNA (negatively charged) is
organised in large loops and is held by some proteins
(positively charged).
Organisation of DNA in eukaryotes:
o They have positively charged basic proteins called histones
(positive and basic due to presence of positive and basic amino
acid residues, lysine and arginine).
o Histone octamer Unit of eight molecules of histone
o DNA (negatively charged) winds around histone octamer
(positively charged) to form nucleosome.


o 1 nucleosome has approx. 200 bp of DNA.

o Nucleosomes in a chromatin resemble beads present on
o Beads on string structure in chromatin are further packaged to
form chromatin fibres, which further coil and condense to form
chromosomes during metaphase.
o Non-histone chromosomal proteins Additional set of proteins
required for packaging of chromatin at higher level

Transforming principle, Hershey and Chase experiments, & Properties

of genetic material

Discovery of DNA as a Genetic Material


Though principles of inheritance and discovery of chromosomes in

nucleus were achieved long time back, there was confusion about
which molecule acted as genetic material.
Transforming Principle
Griffith performed experiments with the bacteria Streptococcus
pneumoniae. This bacterium has two strains S strain and R strain.

S strain Bacteria

R strain Bacteria

o Produce smooth colonies on

culture plate

o Produce rough colonies on

culture plate

o Have a polysaccharide coat

o Do not have a polysaccharide


o Virulent (causes pneumonia)

o Non-virulent (does not cause



Griffiths experiment

Live R strain in the presence of heat-killed S strain produce virulence

because somehow R strain bacteria is transformed by heat-killed S
strain bacteria. Hence, it was concluded that there must be transfer of
genetic material.
Biochemical Nature of Transforming Material
Avery, McLeod, and McCarthy worked to determine the biochemical
nature of genetic material responsible for transformation.


This suggests that DNA has to be the genetic material.

Hershey and Chase Experiment to Confirm DNA as the Genetic
Hershey and Chase worked on bacteriophages (viruses that infect
When a bacteriophage infects a bacterium, the viral genetic material
gets attached with the bacterial genetic material and bacteria then
treats the viral genetic material as its own to synthesise more viral
Hershey and Chase worked to discover whether it was a protein or
DNA that entered the bacteria from virus.
They labelled some phages with radioactive sulphur and the others
with radioactive phosphorus.
These radioactive phages were used to infect E. coli.
E.coli was then blended and centrifuged to remove viral particles.
It was observed that bacteria with radioactive DNA were radioactive
while those with radioactive proteins lost their radioactivity.
This showed that it is the DNA that enters the bacteria from viruses
and not proteins. Hence, it was concluded that DNA is the genetic



Properties of the Genetic Material

It should be able to replicate (duplicate to produce its identical copy).
It should be chemically and structurally stable.
It should have scope for changes that are essential for evolution.
It should follow the Mendelian principles of inheritance.
Difference between DNA and RNA:




o Has deoxyribose

o Has ribose sugar

o 5-methyl uracil
(thymine) is present.

o Uracil is present in place of thymine.

o Mostly DNA acts as

the genetic material.

o RNA acts as a messenger and

adaptor. It acts as a genetic material
in some viruses.

o DNA is stable.

o Presence of 2 OH group at every

nucleotide makes RNA labile and
easily biodegradable.

o Chemically less
reactive, mutates

o Mutation in RNA is faster.

o DNA requires RNA for

protein synthesis.

o RNA directly codes for proteins.

Why DNA is more stable than RNA?

In RNA, a 2 OH group is present at every nucleotide. This makes
RNA unstable and degradable.


Presence of thymine in place of uracil confers additional stability to

RNA being a biocatalyst is more reactive.
DNA is double-stranded having complementary strand, which resists
the changes by repair mechanism.
DNA Replication with Experimental Proof Machinery and Enzymes
What is DNA Replication?
DNA replication is the phenomenon in which a duplicate copy of DNA
is synthesised.
In replication, two strands of the DNA helix separate and each strand
acts as a template for synthesising new complementary strands.
After completion of replication, the two copies so produced will have
one parental and one newly synthesised strand. This scheme of


replication is called semi-conservative replication.

Experiment to Prove That DNA Replicates Semi-Conservatively

Performed by Messelson and Stahl
E.coli was grown in a medium containing heavy isotope 15N as the
nitrogen source.


N was incorporated into newly synthesised DNA as well and the

DNA became heavy DNA.

Heavy DNA molecule can be differentiated from normal DNA by

density gradient centrifugation using cesium chloride as the gradient.
Then, cells were again transferred into a medium with 14N as nitrogen
source. Samples were taken from this media and their DNA was
E .coli divides every 20 minutes. Therefore, the DNA extracted after
20 minutes had a hybrid density.


DNA extracted after 40 minutes had equal amount of hybrid and light
This implies that the newly synthesised DNA obtained one of its
strands from the parent. Thus, replication is semi-conservative.

Mechanism of DNA Replication

Replication occurs in S phase of cell cycle.
Enzyme involved - DNA polymerase (DNA dependent DNA
Replication requires energy.
Source of energy Deoxyribonucleoside triphosphates (DNTPs)
DNTPs have dual purpose Act as substrates and provide energy
Replication initiates at specific regions in DNA called origin of
DNA polymerase polymerises a large number of nucleotides in a very
short time.


During the course of replication, two parent strands do not completely

open, but a small opening forms in which replication occurs. This
small opening forms a replication fork.
DNA polymerase can polymerise only in one direction that is


Therefore, replication occurs smoothly at to end of DNA.

(continuous replication, but occurs discontinuously at to end)
The discontinuous fragments so formed are joined by DNA ligase.

Transcription Unit --- Structure and its Relationship with a Gene

Transcription is the process of formation of RNA molecules from the
During transcription, only a segment of DNA from only one of the
strands participates.
Both strands are not copied during transcription because:
o If both strands get transcribed at the same time since the
sequences of amino acid would be different in both (due to


complementarity), then two RNA molecules with different

sequences will be formed, which in turn give rise to two different
proteins. Therefore, one DNA would end up giving rise to two
different proteins.
o Two RNA molecules so formed will be complementary to each
other, hence would end up forming a double-stranded RNA
leaving the entire process of transcription futile.
Transcriptional Unit
A transcriptional unit has primarily three regions:
o Promoter Marks the beginning of transcription; RNA
polymerase binds here
o Structural gene Part of the DNA that is actually transcribed
o Terminator Marks the end of transcription
Template Strand and Coding Strand
Enzyme involved in transcription, RNA polymerase (DNA dependent
RNA polymerase), catalyses in only one direction i.e., 5 to 3.
Therefore, the strand with polarity 3 5 acts as a template
(Template Strand).
The strand with polarity 5 3 acts as coding strand (which is a
misnomer since it does not code for anything). Coding strand has
sequence similar to RNA formed after transcription except for the
change that thymine is present instead of uracil.


The DNA sequence which codes for tRNA or rRNA molecule defines
a gene.
Cistron Segment of DNA that contains the genetic code for a single
The structural genes could be of two types:
o Monocistronic (mostly in eukaryotes)
o Polycistronic (mostly in prokaryotes)
Monocistronic genes have two parts:
o Exon Sequences that code for a particular character and is
expressed in a matured and processed mRNA
o Intron Interrupting sequences that do not appear in a mature
and processed mRNA
Regulatory genes Sequences that do not code for anything, but
have regulatory functions
Types of RNA & Transcription Process

Types of RNA


mRNA (messenger RNA) It serves as a template for protein

synthesis. DNA is transcribed to form an mRNA, which in turn is
translated to form protein. [Central dogma of molecular biology]
tRNA (transfer RNA) It brings amino acids during translation and
reads the genetic code.
rRNA (ribosomal RNA) These are the work benches of translation.
They play a structural and catalytic role during translation.
Transcription Process
Transcription has three steps initiation, elongation, and termination.
o RNA polymerase binds with the promoter to initiate the process
of transcription.
o Association with initiation factor () alters the specificity of RNA
polymerase to initiate the transcription.
o RNA polymerase uses nucleotide triphosphate as substrate,
and polymerisation occurs according to complementarity.
o Termination occurs when termination factor (P) alters the
specificity of RNA polymerase to terminate the transcription.
As the RNA polymerase proceeds to perform elongation, a
short stretch of RNA remains bound to the enzyme. As the
enzyme reaches the termination region, this nascent RNA falls
off and transcription is


o terminated.

Complexities Associated with Transcription

In prokaryotes:
o There is no clear demarcation between cytosol and nucleus.
Therefore, translation can begin even before transcription is
completed. Thus, in prokaryotes, transcription and translation
are coupled.
In eukaryotes:
o Three different kinds of RNA polymerases are present.
RNA polymerase I transcribes rRNA.
RNA polymerase II transcribes hnRNA (mRNA precursor).
RNA polymerase III transcribes tRNA, snRNA, and srRNA.


o The precursor of mRNA, i.e. hnRNA, contains both introns and

exons. Introns are removed and exons are joined by a process
called splicing.
o Capping In this, methyl guanosine triphosphate is added to
the 5 end of hnRNA.
o Tailing In this, adenylate residues are added to the 3 end of
o When hnRNA is fully processed, it is known as mRNA, which is
transported out of the nucleus to get translated.

Genetic Code and Study of Mutations

Genetic Code
Genetic code directs the sequence of amino acids during the
synthesis of proteins.
George Gamow proposed that if 20 amino acids are to be coded by 4
bases, then the code should be made up of three nucleotides. 4 3 = 64
(42 = 16), which is less than 20; so, the codon was proposed to be


Har Gobind Khorana developed a chemical method to synthesise

RNA molecules with defined combination of bases.
Nirenberg developed cell-free systems for protein synthesis, which
helped the code to be deciphered.
The enzyme known as Severo Ochoa enzyme (polynucleotide
phosphorylase) helped to polymerise RNA with defined sequences in
a template independent manner.
It finally gave rise to the checker-board for genetic code.

Salient features of genetic code:

o Codon is triplet. 43 = 64 (61 codons code for amino acids while
3 are stop codons)
o One codon codes for a single specific amino acid. Codons are
o Codons are degenerate since some amino acids are coded by
more than one codon.


o Genetic code is universal. 1 codon codes for same amino acid

in all species.
o Codons are read continuous. They lack punctuations.
o AUG has dual functions Codes for Methionine and acts as a
start codon
Effects of Mutations on Genetic Code
Mutations include insertions, deletions, and rearrangements.
Mutation results in changed phenotype and diseases such as sickle
cell anaemia. (Change Glu Val in gene coding for beta globin chain
of haemoglobin) Such mutations are called joint mutations.
Insertion or deletion of a single base pair disturbs the entire reading
frame in mRNA. Such mutations are called frameshift mutations.
Frameshift mutations hold the proof of the fact that codon is triplet
because if we insert three or multiple of three bases followed by the
deletion of same number of bases, then the reading frame will remain
Structure of tRNA; Process of Translation; Regulation of Gene

tRNA is an adapter molecule. On one hand, it reads the genetic code
and on the other hand, it binds to specific amino acids.
tRNA has an anticodon loop that has bases complementary to the
mRNA code and an amino acid acceptor end where it binds to the
corresponding amino acid.


Initiation tRNA This tRNA is essential for initiation of translation and

has AUG in anticodon loop and Met in amino acid acceptor end.
There are no tRNAs for stop codons.

The mRNA contains the genetic information, which is translated into
the amino acid sequence with help of tRNA. Amino acids are
polymerised to form a polypeptide.
Amino acids are joined by peptide bond.
First of all, charging of tRNA (amino-acylation of tRNA) takes place.
In this, amino acids are activated in the presence of ATP and are
linked to their corresponding tRNA.
Ribosomes are the workbenches for translation. Ribosomes have 2
subunits: a large subunit and a small subunit.
Smaller subunit comes in contact with mRNA to initiate the process of
Translational unit in an mRNA is the region flanked by start codon
and stop codon.


Untranslated regions (UTR) are the regions on mRNA that are not
themselves translated, but are required for efficient translation
process. They may be present before start codon (5 UTR) or after
stop codon (3 UTR).
Initiator tRNA recognises the start codon. (Initiation)
Then t-RNA-amino acid complexes bind to their corresponding codon
on the mRNA and base pairing occurs between codon on mRNA and
tRNA anticodon.
tRNA moves from codon to codon on the mRNA and amino acids are
added one by one. (Elongation)
Release factor binds to stop codon to terminate the translation.
Regulation of Gene Expression
Regulation of gene expression could be exerted at following levels.
o Transcriptional level (following of primary transcripts)
o Processing level (splicing)
o Transport of mRNA from nucleus to cytoplasm
o Translational level
In addition, metabolic, physiological, or environmental conditions
regulate the expression of genes.
Expression of genes coding for enzymes is required only when
substrate for that enzyme is available.
For example:


Glucose + Galactose
E.coli synthesises beta-galactosidase, only when lactose is available.
Regulation in prokaryotes
o Gene expression is regulated by controlling the rate of
transcriptional initiation.
o The activity of RNA polymerase at a given promoter is
regulated by accessory proteins. The accessory proteins affect
the ability of a promoter to recognise start sites.
o A regulatory protein could be activator or repressor.
o Accessibility of promoter is also affected by operators. Operator
is the region located adjacent to promoter.
o Each operon has a specific operator and a specific repressor.
o Usually operator binds to a repressor protein.
Regulation of Lac Operon
Lac Operon
Operon An arrangement where a polycistronic gene is regulated by
a common promoter and regulatory genes
Lac operon, trp operon, his operon, val operon are the examples of
such systems.
The elucidation of lac operon as a transcriptionally active system was
first done by geneticist Jacob and biochemist Monod.
Genes constituting lac operon:





i gene


It codes for repressor of lac operon.



It codes for -galactosidase.


Galactose + Glucose



It codes for permease, which increases the

permeability of cell to -galactosidase.



It codes for transacetylase.

All genes involved in lac operon are required for metabolism of

Inducer Lactose acts as an inducer for lac operon since it regulates
the switching on and off of the operon.
If lactose is provided to the growth media of bacteria in absence of
any other carbon source, then it is transported inside the cells by
For permease to be present and lactose to enter inside the cells, low
level of expression of lac operon must be present all the time.
Regulation in Absence of Inducer


In absence of inducer, i gene transcribes to synthesise repressor

mRNA, which translates to form repressor.
This repressor binds with the operator region of operon and prevents
RNA polymerase to transcribe genes z, y, and a (negative
Therefore, in absence of the products of these genes, metabolism of
lactose ceases.

Regulation in Presence of Inducer

Inducer binds with the protein product of gene i (repressor) and
inactivates it.
This inactivated repressor is unable to inactivate RNA polymerase
enzyme and z, y, and a genes synthesise their respective mRNA,
which in turn gets translated to form -galactosidase, permease, and
In presence of all these enzymes, the metabolism of lactose
proceeds in a normal manner.


Human Genome Project (HGP)

Joint venture of US department of energy and National Institute of
Health (NIH); later joined by Welcome Trust (UK)
Launched in 1990, completed in 2003
This project worked towards the determination of complete DNA
sequence of humans.
DNA is the storehouse of genetic information and determining its
sequence of base pairs can solve many medical, agricultural,
environmental, and evolutionary mysteries.
Relationship of HGP with Bioinformatics
Human genome (genome refers to the totality of genes that are
present in a human being) contains 3 109 base pairs.
Cost of sequencing 1 bp = US $ 3
Cost of sequencing 3 109 bp = US $ 9 billion
Enormous sequence data so generated would have required 3300
books containing 1000 pages each just for a human genome.
Hence, for storing, retrieving, and analysing this enormous data, a
new branch of biology has been developed known as bioinformatics.
Genomes of many non-human models such as bacteria, yeast,
Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila, plants (rice and Arabidopsis)
have also been sequenced.
Methods to Identify Genes
Two methods identifying ESTs (Expressed sequence Tags) and
sequence annotation


ESTs As the name suggests, this refers to the part of DNA that is
expressed, i.e. transcribed, as mRNA and translated into proteins
thereafter. It basically focuses on sequencing the part denoting a
Annotation In this approach, entire genome (coding + non-coding)
is sequenced and later on function is assigned to each region in the
Genome Sequencing
DNA from the cells is isolated and is randomly broken into fragments
of smaller sizes.
These fragments are cloned into suitable host using vectors.
Cloned fragments amplify in the host. Amplification facilitates an easy
Common vectors used BAC (Bacterial artificial chromosomes) and
YAC (Yeast artificial chromosomes)
Common hosts Bacteria and yeasts
Automated sequencers are used to sequence these smaller
fragments (Sanger sequencing).
The sequences so obtained are arranged based on overlapping
regions within them (alignment).
Alignment of the sequences is also done automatically by computer
Then these sequences are annotated and assigned to each


Preparation of Genetic and physical maps on Genome

2 methods are used restriction polymorphism and microsatellites
Restriction polymorphism Specialized enzymes called restriction
endonucleases are used to cut the genome at specialized sites called
restriction endonuclease recognition site and maps are prepared
based on it.
Microsatellites These are repetitive DNA sequences.
Observations from HGP
Human genome contains 3 109 (3164.7 million) nucleotide bases.
An average gene consists of 3000 bases. However, the size of genes
varies. Largest gene is dystrophin (2.4 m bases).
Total number of genes in human genome 30,000
Over 50% of the discovered genes have unknown functions.
Less than 2% of genome is coding.
Large portion of genome consists of repeating sequences.
Repetitive sequences have no coding function. They are repeated
over hundred to thousand times. They may have a role in evolution,
chromosome structure, and dynamics.
Chromosome with most genes Chromosome 1 (2968)
Chromosome with fewest genes Chromosomes Y (231)
SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphism) occur at about 1.4 million
locations in human DNA. They are believed to have significance in
explaining diseases and evolutionary history of human beings.


DNA Fingerprinting
DNA fingerprinting is a method for comparing the DNA sequences of
any two individuals.
99.9% of the base sequences in all human beings are identical. It is
the remaining 0.1% that makes every individual unique.
It is a really difficult and time-consuming task to sequence and
compare all 3 109 bases in two individuals. So, instead of
considering the entire genome, certain specific regions called
repetitive DNA sequences are used for comparative study.
Basis of DNA Fingerprinting
Repetitive DNA is separated from bulk genomic DNA since it appears
as a distinct peak during density gradient centrifugation.
Major peak: Formed by bulk DNA
Smaller peak: Satellite DNA
Satellites are of two typesmicro-satellites and mini satellites,
depending upon the base composition, length of segment and the
number of repetitive units.
Satellites do not code for proteins, but have a major role to play in
DNA fingerprinting.
Polymorphism is actually a result of mutation. A germ cell mutation
(which can pass on to the next generation through sexual
reproduction) gives rise to polymorphism in populations.
In other words, an inheritable mutation if observed in higher
frequencies in a population is known as polymorphism.


Polymorphisms arise normally in non-coding sequences because

mutations in non-coding sequences do not affect an individuals
reproductive ability.
Methodology of DNA fingerprinting
VNTR (variable number of tandem repeats) are satellite DNAs that
show high degree of polymorphism.
VNTRs are used as probes in DNA fingerprinting.
First of all, DNA from an individual is isolated and cut with restriction
Fragments are separated according to their size and molecular
weight on gel electrophoresis.
Fragments separated on electrophoresis gel are blotted (immobilised)
on a synthetic membrane such as nylon or nitrocellulose.
Immobilised fragments are hybridised with a VNTR probe.
Hybridised DNA fragments can be detected by autoradiography.
VNTRs vary in size from 0.1 to 20 kb.
Hence, in the autoradiogram, band of different sizes will be obtained.
These bands are characteristic for an individual. They are different in
each individual, except identical twins.


Applications of DNA Fingerprinting

DNA fingerprinting is widely used in forensics since every DNA of
every tissue from an individual has the same degree of
DNA fingerprinting forms the basis of paternity testing since a child
inherits polymorphism from both its parents.
It can be used for studying genetic diversity in a population and


Origin of Life






Big Bang theory

The universe
expanded from
explosion of a
primordial, hot




Chemical evolution preceded

organic evolution

Simple organic
molecules originated
from inorganic


Miller and

Synthesis of biomolecules by
creation of similar conditions
as primitive atmosphere on
laboratory scale

Amino acids were

synthesised from
ammonia, oxygen,
and carbon dioxide
inside specialised

Urey and Miller experiment


Primitive atmosphere had high temperature, volcanic storms, and

reducing atmosphere, containing CH4, NH3, H2, etc.
Urey and Miller took the same compounds in a closed flask along
with water vapour at 800C and created an electric discharge.
Formation of biomolecules such as amino acids, simple sugars, fats,
etc. was observed in the flask.
Theories of Evolution
The theory of special creation or divine intervention was challenged
by Charles Darwin.
He made observations on his sea-trip around the world aboard
Beagle and concluded that all existing living forms share similarities among
themselves and also with other life forms, which existed millions of years
ago of which many are extinct.
The evolution of life forms has been gradual and those life forms
better fit in environments that leave more progeny. This is called
natural selection and is a mechanism of evolution.
Alfred Wallace working in the Malay Archepelago also came to the
same conclusion.
Evidences of Evolution
Fossils They represent plants and animals that lived millions of
years ago and are now extinct. Different aged rock sediments contain


fossils of different life-forms, which probably died during the formation

of the particular sediment.
Comparative anatomy and morphology It shows evidences of
the similarities and differences between living forms of today and that
of the prehistoric times. Some of the examples of comparative
anatomy and morphology are:
Homologous organs All mammals share the same pattern of
forelimbs. Though they perform different functions, they are
anatomically similar. This is called divergent evolution and the
structures are called homologous structures (common ancestors).
Analogous organs The pair of organs is not anatomically similar,
but performs the same function (e.g., the wings of butterflies and
birds). This is called convergent evolution.
Adaptive melanism In England, it was noted that before industrial
revolution, the number of white-winged moths was more than that of
dark melanised moth. However, after industrialisation, there were
more of dark melanised moths. The explanation was that after
industrialization, the tree trunks became darker with deposits of soot
and smoke and hence, the number of dark moths increased in order
to protect themselves from predators while the white-winged ones
were easily picked up by the predators.
Similarly, the herbicide and pesticide resistant plants and animals and
antibiotic resistant bacteria are some of the evidences that point
towards evolution.

Adaptive Radiation
During his exploration of the Galapagos Islands, Darwin noticed that
there were many varieties of finches in the same island.
They varied from normal seed eating varieties to those that ate
This process of evolution starting from a single point and radiating in
different directions is called adaptive radiation.
The other example for this is the evolution of the Australian
marsupials from a single ancestor. Placental mammals also exhibit
similarities to their corresponding marsupial. Example: placental wolf
and the Tasmanian wolf
When more than one adaptive radiation occurs in an isolated
geographical area, the phenomenon is called convergent evolution.


Biological Evolution & Mechanism of Evolution

According to Darwin, evolution took place by natural selection.
The number of life forms depends upon their ability to multiply and
their life span.
Another aspect of natural selection is the survival of the fittest, where
nature selects the individuals, which are most fit, to adapt to their
Branching descent and natural selection are the two important
concepts of Darwins theory of evolution.
The French naturalist Lamarck observed that evolution occurs due to
the use or disuse of particular organs or body parts. For example,
giraffe have developed long necks as a result of attempts to eat
leaves high up on trees.
Darwin also observed that variations are inheritable and the species
fit to survive the most, leaves more offsprings. Hence, the
populations characteristics change, giving rise to the evolution of
new life forms.
Mechanism of Evolution


Darwin did not quite explain how evolution gave rise to different
species of the same organism.
Mendel mentioned about inheritable factors, which influenced the
phenotype of an organism.
Hugo de Vries based on his work on evening primrose suggested that
variations occurred due to mutations.
Mutations are random and directionless while the variations that
Darwin talked about were small and directional. Hugo de Vries gave
the name saltation (single step large mutation) to the mutations
which brought about speciation.
Hardy-Weinberg Principle
The frequency of occurrence of alleles of a gene in a population
remains constant through generations unless disturbances such as
mutations, non-random mating, etc. are introduced.
Genetic equilibrium (gene pool remains constant) is a state which
provides a baseline to measure genetic change.
Sum total of all allelic frequencies is 1.
Individual frequencies are represented as p and q such as in a
diploid, where p and q represent the frequency of allele A and a.
The frequency of AA is p2, that of aa is q2, and that of Aa is 2pq.
Hence, p2 + 2pq + q2 = 1, which is the expansion of (p + q)2.
When the frequency measured is different from that expected, it is
indicative of evolutionary change.
Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium is affected by
gene flow or gene migration
genetic drift (changes occurring by chance)
genetic recombination
natural selection
Sometimes, the change in allele frequency is so prominent in the new
sample of population that they become a different species and the
original drifted population becomes the founder. This effect is called
founder effect.
The advantageous mutations that help in natural selection over the
generations give rise to new phenotypes and result in speciation.
Evolution of Plants and Animals


Evolution of Plants
Cellular life forms occurred on earth about 2000 million years ago.
Some of these cells had the ability to produce oxygen through
reactions similar to photosynthesis.
Slowly, single-celled organisms became multicellular.
Seaweeds and some plants probably existed around 320 million
years ago.

Evolution of Animals
Animals evolved about 500 million years ago. The first of them to
evolve were invertebrates.
Jawless fishes evolved around 350 million years ago.
Some of the fishes could go on land, and then come back to water.
These were the first amphibians. In 1938, a fish Coelacanth, which
was thought to be extinct, was caught in South Africa. This variety of
fish, called lobefins, is believed to have evolved into the first
Amphibians evolved into reptiles. In the next 200 million years,
reptiles of different sizes dominated the earth. However, about 65
million years ago, some of them such as dinosaurs disappeared.
The first among the mammals were small shrew-like mammals.


During continental drift when North America joined South America,

primitive mammals suffered, but pouched mammals of Australia
survived the same drift because of lack of competition from other

Origin and Evolution of Man




15 million
years ago

Dryopithecus (ape-like) and

Ramapithecus (man-like)

Hairy and walked similar to


years ago

Man-like primates

Not tall, but walked straight

2 million
years ago

Australopithecines, also
called Homo habilis,lived in
East Africa

Used stone weapons and

ate fruits;


human-like with brain

capacity of 650 800 cc;
not meat eaters
1.5 million
years ago

Homo erectus

Brain capacity of about 900

cc; were meat eaters

1,000 40,
000 years

Neanderthal man

Brain capacity of 1400 cc;

used hides

75, 000
10, 000
years ago

Homo sapiens

When we compare the skulls of an adult human being, baby chimpanzee,

and adult chimpanzee, we observe that skull of baby chimpanzee
resembles human being more as compared to adult chimpanzee.


Common Diseases in Humans

What is Health?
Health is the state of complete physical, mental, and social well
Health increases productivity and ensures longevity.
Ways to Ensure Good Health
Balanced diet
Personal hygiene
Awareness about prevention and control of diseases


Proper waste disposal and control of vectors

Why do Diseases Occur?
Genetic reasons Innate deficiencies and inheritable defects
Sedentary life style Junk food, consumption of alcohols/drugs, lack
of exercise
Pathogenic Diseases
Pathogens are the parasites that enter the human body through
various means, then multiply, and interfere with normal vital activities.
Bacterial Diseases
o Pathogen Salmonella typhi
o Spreads through Contaminated food and water
o Site of infection Small intestine
o Symptoms High fever, stomach pain, headache, loss of
appetite, constipation, and intestinal perforations in severe
o Confirmatory test Widal test


o Pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus

o Spreads through Droplets/aerosols released from infected
person, sharing of glasses or utensils
o Site of infection Alveoli (gets filled with fluid, difficulty in
o Symptoms Fever, chills, cough, headache, lips and nails
become grey in severe cases
Viral Diseases
Common cold
o Pathogen Rhino viruses
o Site of infection Nose and respiratory passage
o Spreads through Droplets released from coughing or
sneezing, or contaminated objects
o Symptoms Nasal congestion and discharge, sore throat,
cough, headache, tiredness
Protozoan Diseases
o Pathogen Plasmodium sps. (P.vivax, P. falciparum, P. malaria)
o Vector Female Anopheles mosquito
o Symptoms High grade fever, chills


o Pathogen Entamoeba histolytica

o Vector Housefly
o Site of infection Large intestine
o Symptoms Constipation, abdominal pain, cramps, stools with
mucous, and blood clots
Fungal Diseases
o Pathogens Genera Microsporum, Trichophyton, and
o Spreads through Towels, clothes, comb (Fungus is acquired
from soil)
o Symptoms Appearance of dry, scaly lesions on various body
parts with intense itching
Diseases Caused by Worms
o Pathogen Round worm, Ascaris
o Spreads through Water, vegetables, fruits contaminated by
faeces of infected person
o Symptoms Internal bleeding, muscular pain, fever, anaemia,
blockage of intestinal passage

Elephantiasis (filariasis)


o Pathogen Wuchereria (W.malayi and W.bancrofti)

o Spreads through Bite of female mosquito vector
o Symptom Chronic inflammation of the organs, usually the
lymphatic vessels of lower limb
Life Cycle of Plasmodium
Plasmodium requires two hosts to complete its life cycle.
When female Anopheles mosquito bites a healthy human being, it
releases Plasmodium, which lives in its body as sporozoite (infectious
The parasites multiply (asexual reproduction) in the liver cells and
finally burst the liver cells. Sporozoites are released in blood.
Parasites enter RBCs and further multiply (asexual reproduction)
here and finally burst RBCs also.
Bursting of RBCs is accompanied by release of a toxic substance
called haemozoin (associated with fever and chills).
In the RBCs, only sporozoites change into gametocytes (sexual
stage). Gametocytes multiply.
When the diseased person is bitten by a female Anopheles mosquito,
gametocytes are introduced into the mosquito.
Gametocytes fertilise and develop inside the intestine of mosquito to
form sporozoites.
Sporozoites are stored in the salivary glands of mosquito and are
released into the healthy person who is bitten by this mosquito.


What is immunity?
The ability of body to fight the disease-causing organisms is called
Types of immunity
Immunity is of two types innate immunity and acquired immunity.
Innate immunity It is present from the time of birth. It is nonspecific. It consists of 4 kinds of barriers.


o Physical barriers Skin and mucus coating of respiratory,

gastrointestinal, and urogenital tract prevent entry of microbes
into body.
o Physiological barriers Acid in stomach, saliva in mouth, tears
from eyes
o Cellular barriers Blood has leukocytes such as polymorpho
nuclear leukocytes, monocytes, etc. and tissue has
macrophages which phagocytose the microbes.
o Cytokine barriers Special proteins called interferons are
secreted by virus-infected cells that prevent the further spread
of viral infection.
Acquired immunity It is acquired, which means that it is produced
in response to an encounter with a pathogen based on memory. It is
pathogen specific.
o When a pathogen for the first time infects a person, low
intensity immune response is generated (primary response).
o When the same pathogen attacks again, intensified immune
response in generated, thereby preventing the occurrence of
disease (secondary response).
o Acquired immunity involves two types of cells B-lymphocytes
and T- lymphocytes.
o B-lymphocytes Secrete proteins called antibodies in response
to pathogens Antibodies are specialized proteins with 4
peptide chains (2 light and 2 heavy), hence denoted as H 2L2.
IgA IgM, IgE, etc. are examples of some of the antibodies. They
generate humoral immune response (found in blood).


o T-lymphocytes They help B-cells to produce antibodies. They

generate cell -mediated immune response. This response
helps the body to differentiate between self and non-self as
occurs in case of graft rejection.
Difference between active immunity and passive immunity
Active Immunity
o This is the naturally acquired immunity produced in the host
body in response to an antigen.
o Immunization and body naturally getting immune to a microbe
that had caused infection previously are examples of active
Passive immunity
o When ready-made antibodies are provided to an individual to
protect against foreign agents
o Colostrums present in mothers milk contain IgA. Also, the
foetus gets antibodies from mother through placenta.
How does vaccination help?
Vaccines are nothing but inactivated pathogens.
These inactivated pathogens when introduced in the body produce a
primary immune response and antibodies are produced against the
Memory B and T-cells are produced.


Now when the pathogen again attacks the person, memory B and Tcells generate a massive immune response and the pathogen is
Problems of immune system
o Exaggerated immune response to certain antigens present in
o Allergens Substances in response to which allergy is
E.g., dust, pollen, etc.
o Antibodies involved IgE type
o During allergic reactions, chemicals such as histamines and
serotonins are released.
o Symptoms Sneezing, watery eyes, difficulty in breathing, etc.
o Allergy test Patient is injected with small doses of allergens to
monitor his response.
o Antihistamines, adrenalins, and steroids may be given so that
the symptoms of allergy subside.
o In autoimmunity, body generates immune response against its
own cells.
o Reasons Genetic and other unknown reasons
o Example Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease.


Human immune system

Lymphoid organs are of two types primary lymphoid organs and
secondary lymphoid organs.
Primary lymphoid organs consist of bone marrow and thymus. Here,
immature lymphocytes are differentiated to form antigen-sensitive
o Bone marrow Here, all blood cells including lymphocytes are
o Thymus It is responsible for maturation of T-lymphocytes.
This lobed organ is situated near the heart and keeps on
reducing in size as the age increases.

Secondary lymphoid organs Lymphocytes migrate here after

attaining maturity. It includes spleen, lymph nodes tonsils, Peyers
patches, and appendix.
o Spleen Large bean-shaped organ containing lymphocytes
and phagocytes, which acts as a filter for blood
o Lymph nodes Located at different points throughout the
immune system, they trap the antigens present in lymph or
tissue fluid, and these antigens cause activation of lymphocytes
and generation of immune response.
MALT (Mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue) Lines major tracts
(respiratory, digestive, urogenital, etc); constitutes 50% of lymphoid
tissue in body
AIDS & Cancer


AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome)

Caused by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) [HIV is a retrovirus
(RNA virus)]
Transmission of HIV occurs through:
o Sexual contact with infected person
o Sharing infected needles (as in case of intravenous drug
o Transfusion of contaminated blood
o Infected mother to child through placenta
Time lag between infection and appearance of symptoms Few
months to many years (5-10 years)
How does AIDS infection spread?
o Virus enters the body of a person and enters macrophages.
o Here, virus replicates (viral RNA reverse transcribes to viral
DNA, which gets incorporated into hosts DNA and subsequently
new viral particles are produced).


o Macrophages become a virtual HIV factory.

o Thereafter, HIV enters helper T-lymphocytes, replicates, and
produces progenies.
o As the progenies are released, they attack other T-lymphocytes.
o Therefore, T-lymphocytes start decreasing in number and immune
response of the person becomes weak.
o Even infections which could be overcome easily start aggravating.
Diagnosis of AIDS By ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immuno Sorbent
Treatment No permanent cure; antiretroviral therapies can prolong
the life of patient
Prevention of AIDS


o Ensuring use of disposable syringes

o Screeningblood from blood banks
o Advocating safe sex
o NACO (National AIDS Control Organization) and many NGOs
are doing a lot to create awareness among people.
The process of development of cancer is called oncogenic
Normal cells have the property of contact inhibition (stoppage of
growth on coming in contact with other cells), but cancer cells lose
this property.
As a result, cancer cells divide continuously to give rise to mass of
cells (tumours).
Tumours are of 2 types benign and malignant.
Benign tumours Remain confined to their original location and do
not spread
Malignant tumours These exhibit metastasis i.e., the cells sloughed
from such tumours reach distant sites and wherever they reach, new
tumour is formed.
Malignant tumours actually represent cancer. The cells actively
divide, grow, and starve the normal cells of vital nutrients.
Causes of cancer


o Carcinogens Physical, chemical, and biological agents that

cause cancer Example - ionizing radiations (X-rays and gamma
rays), non-ionizing radiations (UV)
o Oncogenic (cancer-causing) viruses They have viral
oncogenes (cancer-causing genes).
o Sometimes normal genes in our body called proto-oncogenes
get converted into cellular oncogenes that cause cancer.
Diagnosing cancer
o Biopsy and histopathological studies
o Biopsy Suspected tissue is cut into thin sections and
examined microscopically
o Radiography, CT scan (computed tomography), and MRI
(Magnetic resonance imaging) are techniques of diagnosing
o C T Scan 3-D imaging of internals of an organ is generated
by X-rays.
o MRI Scan Pathological and physiological changes in a living
tissue are detected by using magnetic fields and non-ionising
o Immunological and molecular biological diagnostic techniques
can all be used to detect cancers.
o Identifying certain genes, which make an individual susceptible
to cancers, can help to prevent cancers.
Treatment of cancer


o Radiotherapy Tumour cells are irradiated to death. Also,

proper care is taken for protecting surrounding normal tissues.
o Chemotherapy Drugs specific for particular tumours are
used to kill cancer cells. They have side effects such as hair
loss, anaemia, etc.
o Immunotherapy Biological response modifiers such as interferons are used. They activate the immune system of
patient and helps in destroying the tumour.
Commonly Abused Drugs
Opioids (Heroin)
Source: Acetylation of morphine extracted from the latex of poppy
plants (Papaver somniferum)
Consumed by: Snorting or injection
Properties: White, bitter and odourless
Mode of action: Binds to opioid receptors present in the CNS and GI
Effect: It is a depressant; slows down body functions
Source: Inflorescences of the plant Cannabis sativa
Consumed by: Inhalation or oral ingestion
Mode of action: Binds to cannabinoid receptors present in the brain
Effect: Affects the cardiovascular system


Source: Coca plant Erythroxylum coca, found in South America
Consumed by: Snorting
Mode of action: Interference with transfer of neurotransmitter,
Effect: Stimulates the CNS, producing a sense of euphoria and
increased energy; excessive dosages cause hallucination
Drugs Normally Used as Medicines
Drugs like barbiturates, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, LSD
(Lysergic acid diethyl amides) are used as medicines to help patients
with mental illness and insomnia.
Morphine: It is a pain killer which is used for patients who have
undergone surgery, but it is also abused.
Present in tobacco, which is smoked, chewed or snuffed
Mode of action: Stimulates the adrenal gland to release adrenaline
and nor-adrenaline
Effect: Increases blood pressure and heart rate
Ill Effects of Smoking
Increased risk of diseases like bronchitis, emphysema, coronary
heart disease, gastric ulcer and cancer (throat, lung and urinary


Increased carbon monoxide levels in blood, leading to oxygen

Alcohol / Drug Abuse
Causes of alcohol/ Drug Abuse
Alcohol / drug abuse normally starts in adolescence (period between
12-18 yrs transition phase between childhood and adulthood).
Many adolescents are motivated towards drugs/ alcohol due to
curiosity and experimentation.
Peer pressure, academic stress, unstable family structure further
incline youth towards alcohol/ drug abuse.
Perception of consuming alcohol / drug being cool and progressive
and use of alcohol/drug in television, movies, etc. further promote this
Alcohol/ Drug Addiction
When a person uses alcohol/ drug repeatedly, he becomes addicted.
Addiction refers to psychological attachment to certain effects such
as euphoria and temporary feeling of well-being associated with use
of alcohol or drugs.
In addiction, tolerance level of receptors present in our body
increases towards the drug.
This drives the person to use them even when they are not required
or when they tend to harm his health / family life.
Subsequently, the user runs into a vicious circle of addiction and
subsequent dependence.


Dependence leads to manifestation of withdrawal syndrome on

discontinuation of use.
Withdrawal syndrome Anxiety, nausea, sweating, shakiness, and
sometimes may be lethal
Effects of Alcohol/ Drug Abuse
Immediate effect Vandalism, violence, and reckless behaviour
Drop in academic performance, lack of interest in personal hygiene,
rebellious behaviour, and change in eating and sleeping patterns,
weight and appetite fluctuations
Mental, psychological, and financial loss not only to the user, but also
to his family
Those who take drugs intravenously have a high risk of acquiring
deadly diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis B.
Damage to nervous system and liver (cirrhosis)
Use of anabolic steroids by sportsperson have adverse effects:
o In females Increase of masculinity, aggressiveness,
depression, abnormal menstrual cycle, facial hair growth,
enlargement of clitoris, and deepening of voice
o In males Acne, aggressiveness, depression, reduction in size
of testicles, decreased sperm production, enlargement of
prostate gland, breast enlargement, premature baldness
Ultimately, prolonged use of alcohol/drugs leads to coma and death.
Preventing Alcohol/ Drug Abuse


It is better to prevent the inclination of an individual towards alcohol/

drugs right from adolescence. Some of the ways of prevention are:
o Avoid peer pressure Understand the unique personality and
capabilities of a child
o Education and counselling A child must be taught to accept
success and failure equally. Especially during adolescence, he
must be inclined towards constructive activities such as music,
yoga, sports, reading based on his interest.
o Help from parents and peers This includes proper guidance,
advice, and trust to overcome problems such as stress and
o Identifying danger signals If any sign of symptom of alcohol /
drug abuse is seen in the adolescent by family or friends, then it
should not be ignored because prevention is better than cure.
Seeking medical help Psychologists and rehabilitation programs
surely help an addict. Medical help should be sought to prevent
further damage.

Strategies For Enhancement In Food Production

Animal Husbandry
The practice of breeding and raising livestock is called animal
It includes breeding of livestock (cows, buffaloes, pigs, etc.), poultry
farming, and fisheries.


Farm Management
Dairy Farm Management
o Milk yield is dependent upon the quality of breed selected.
Quality encompasses yielding potential and disease resistance.
o Care of cattle Proper accommodation, adequate water,
feeding in a scientific manner (quality of fodder), hygiene, visits
by a veterinary doctor
o All these processes nowadays have become mechanised and
proper record keeping is followed.
Dairy Farm Management
o Poultry includes meat from birds such as chicken, ducks, and
o The main emphasis in poultry farming is selection of a diseasefree and healthy breed.
o Safe farm conditions, proper feed, water, and hygiene are also
Animal Breeding
Breed A group of animals related by descent and similar in most
characters such as general appearance, features, size, etc.
Aims of breeding:
o To increase yield of animals
o To improve desirable qualities in produce
Breeding is of two types inbreeding and out-breeding.
o Mating of more closely related individuals of same breed for
four generations
o Superior females and superior males are identified and mated.
o Superior females Produce more milk per lactation
o Superior males Give rise to a superior progeny
o Inbreeding increases homozygosity. It evolves a pure line.
o It accumulates superior genes, but also threatens to
accumulate harmful recessive genes

o Continuous inbreeding may reduce fertility and productivity.

This problem is called inbreeding depression.


o Out-breeding provides a solution to inbreeding depression.

Out-breeding It includes out-crossing, cross-breeding, and
interspecific hybridisation.
o Out-crossing It is the mating between animals of same
breed, but not having common ancestors for 4 5 generations.
It is usually used for animals, which have below average
productivity and growth rate.
o Cross-breeding It is the mating between superior male of
one breed with superior female of another breed. Superior
qualities of both the breeds combine and this is known as
hybrid vigour. The progeny so formed is called hybrid. A hybrid
may be used as it is or may be further subjected to inbreeding.
Example: Hisardale sheep is a hybrid of Bikaneri ewes and
Marino rams.
o Interspecific Hybridization Males and females of different,
but related species are mated. Progeny has desirable features
of both the species.
Example Mule is an interspecific hybrid of donkey and horse.
Controlled Breeding Techniques
Artificial Insemination
Semen is collected from the male and injected into the reproductive
tract of the female.
Semen can be frozen for later use or used immediately.
Multiple Ovulation Embryo Transfer (MOET) Technology
o Cow is administered with FSH-like hormone, which induces
follicular maturity and super ovulation.
o In super ovulation, instead of one egg/cycle, 6 8 eggs are
produced per cycle.
o The cow is either naturally mated with a superior bull or
artificially inseminated.
o Fertilized egg is recovered at 8 32 cell stages non-surgically
and transferred to a surrogate mother.
o Using this technique, high milk-yielding breeds of females and
lean meat-yielding bulls have been bred successfully.


Apiculture is the practice of bee-keeping. It includes maintenance of

beehives for production of honey.
Uses of apiculture:
o Honey has a high nutritive value and medicinal value.
o Honeybees also produce beeswax that is used in preparation of
polishes and cosmetics.
o Most commonly reared species of honeybee is Apis indica.
Bee-keeping is not labour intensive. It is relatively easy, but requires
some specialized knowledge about
o nature and habits of bees
o selection of suitable location for keeping beehives
o catching and hiving of swarms
o beehive management during different seasons
o handling and collection of honey and beeswax
Include catching, processing, and selling of fishes, shellfishes, and
other aquatic animals (prawn, crab, lobster, etc.)
Edible freshwater fishes Catla and Rohu
Edible Marine fishes Hilsa, pomfrets, and sardines
Aquaculture and pisciculture are the technologies to commercially
rear fishes.
The fisheries industry is flourishing in our country and Blue
Revolution is on the verge of being implemented.
Plant Breeding
What is Plant Breeding?
It is the purposeful manipulation of plant species in order to create
desired plant types which are better suited for cultivation, give better
yields, and are disease resistant.
Classical plant breeding: It includes crossing of superior pure lines
and selection of plants with desired characteristics.
Modern plant breeding: It includes the use of molecular biology and
Desirable plant traits wished to be incorporated by plant breeding
o Increased crop yield
o Improved quality
o Tolerance to environmental stresses


o Pathogen resistance
o Tolerance to insects and pests
Steps Involved in Breeding a New Genetic Variety of a Crop
Collection of genetic variability
o Genetic variability is availed from the wild relatives of the crop.
o Hence, all the wild varieties and relatives of the crop are
collected and preserved.
o The natural genes available in a population are utilised by this
o Entire collection of plants/seeds (wild types/relatives) of the
given crop, which has all the diverse alleles for all genes, is
called germplasm collection.
Evaluation and selection of parents
o From the available genetic variability, the germplasm is
analysed and evaluated to identify the plants with desirable
Crop hybridisation among selected parents
o Two selected parents are crossed (hybridised). This facilitates
the combination of desired traits from two different plants.
o Pollen grains from one plant are dusted over the stigma of the
other plant.
Selection of superior recombinants
o Among the hybrid progeny, those plants are selected which
have the desired character combination.
o Careful scientific evaluation of progeny is required for selection.
o This step yields the plant that is superior to both the parents.
Testing, release and commercialisation
o Selected yields are evaluated for traits like quality, disease
resistance, insect resistance, etc.
o These crops are grown in research fields and their performance
is recorded under ideal conditions.
o This crop is then grown by farmers at several locations, for at
least three growing seasons.
o The crop is evaluated by comparing with the best available
local crop cultivar (which acts as a reference).
Indian Hybrid Crops
Wheat and Rice


In 1960s, wheat and rice production increased tremendously.

Norman E. Borlang developed semi-dwarf varieties of wheat.
Sonalika and Kalyan sona are two of the hybrid wheat varieties grown
in India.
Semi-dwarf wheat varieties were taken from IR86 (International Rice
Research Institute) and Taichung nativeI (from Taiwan).
Jaya and Ratna are the better-yielding, semi-dwarf rice varieties that
were later introduced.
Saccharum barberi is a native of North India and S. officinarum
belongs to South India.
S. officinarum has thicker stems and higher sugar content, but it does
not grow well in North India.
These two varieties were crossed to get the desirable qualities of
both (Higher sugar content, thicker stems and the ability to grow in
North India).
Hybrid maize, jowar and bajra have been successfully developed in
These varieties are high yielding and resistant to water stress.
Applications of Plant Breeding
If resistance to a particular disease is already present in a plant, it
reduces the dependence of the plant on fungicides and bacteriocides.
Before breeding, one must know the causative agent of a disease,
and its mode of transmission.
Some common diseases:
o Fungal brown rust of wheat, red rot of sugarcane and late
blight of potato
o Bacterial black rot of crucifers
o Viral tobacco mosaic
Disease resistance can be provided by conventional breeding,
mutational breeding or genetic engineering.
Conventional breeding: It includes the basic steps of screening,
germplasm, hybridisation, selection, testing and release.


o Example wheat variety, Himgiri (resistant to leaf/stripe rust

and hill bunt) and Brassica variety, Pusa swarnim (resistant to
white rust) are bred by conventional breeding.
o One limitation of this method is that the genes for disease
resistance are limited in number.
Mutational breeding:In this method, genetic variations are created,
which then result in the creation of traits not found in the parental
o Mutations are induced with the help of mutagens (like
chemicals) or irradiation.
o The plants in which the desired character (in this case, the
desired resistance) has come through mutation are selected.
Genetic engineering:
o Certain wild varieties have disease-resistant characteristics, but
they are low yielding.
o Disease-resistant genes from such varieties are introduced in
high-yielding varieties through recombinant DNA technology.
o Example resistance to the yellow mosaic virus in bhindi was
transferred from a wild species to produce a new diseaseresistant variety of bhindi, Parbhani Kranti.
Pest-Resistant Crops
Certain morphological characters (like hairy leaves, solid stems of
wheat) naturally provide resistance from insects and pests.
Similarly, biochemical characters provide resistance from insects and
pests. For example, the high aspartic acid and low nitrogen and sugar
content in maize lead to resistance against maize stem borers.
Such varieties are bred with non-resistant varieties to produce pestresistant hybrids.
Example Pusa Gaurav variety of Brassica is resistant to aphids.
Improvement in Food Quality
A large number of people all over the world suffer from micronutrient,
protein and vitamin deficiencies (hidden hunger) since they cannot
afford to buy food rich in these nutrients.
Such deficiencies lead to diseases, mental retardation and reduced
An alternative to this problem is to breed crops that are rich in


This approach is called bio-fortification of crops. Objectives of biofortification are to improve

o Protein content and quality
o Oil content and quality
o Vitamin content
o Micronutrient and mineral content
o Maize hybrids developed in the year 2000 have twice the
amount of lysine and tryptophan compared to other maize
o Atlas 66 (a wheat variety having higher protein content)
Single-Cell Protein & Tissue Culture
Single-Cell Protein (SCP)
Single-cell protein means that microbes are used as a source of
Microorganisms, despite being very small, are capable of producing
tonnes of proteins due to their higher rates of biomass production.
Just like mushroom culture, it is expected that microbes will soon be
accepted as a source of food.
Presently, Spirulina, an alga is widely accepted as a source of SCP. It
is economical and eco-friendly as well.
It can be grown on economical substrates like waste water from
potato processing plant, straw, molasses or even sewage.
Tissue Culture
Tissue culture is the process of developing a complete plant from a
part of a plant. The plant part is called an explant.
Explants can be grown in sterile conditions in special nutrient media
to regenerate complete plants.
Nutrient media contain a carbon source (such as sucrose), organic
salts, vitamins, amino acids and phytohormones.
Hence, propagation is achieved for a large number of plants in a
short duration. This process is called micropropagation.
Somaclones All the plants obtained by tissue culture are called
somaclones since they are genetically identical to each other as well
as the parent plant.


Somatic hybridisation It refers to the hybridisation of the somatic

parts of two plants. Protoplasts are isolated and fused to get a hybrid
protoplast, which grows further to form a new plant. This new plant is
called a somatic hybrid.
E.g., protoplasts of potato and tomato have been actually fused to
form a Pomato, but this plant is not commercially viable.
Applications of tissue culture
o Many important plants like apple, banana and tomato have
been grown on laboratory scale by using this method.
o This method can be used to recover a healthy plant from a
diseased plant. Example a plant inflicted with virus may not
have virus in its apical and axillary meristems. Hence, these
parts can be cultured to obtain a healthy plant.


Microbes in human welfare

Microbes - Household and Industrial applications
Household Applications
Lactic acid bacteria (LAB)
o Milk
o LAB produces acids that coagulate and partially digest milk
o Small amount of curd that is added to the milk for curdling acts
as an inoculum containing thousands of LABS, which further
o LAB enhances the nutritional value of milk by increasing
Vitamin B12.
o LAB present in stomach prevents infections.
o Dosaand idli dough is fermented by bacteria, which produces
CO2gas and gives it a puffed-up appearance.
o Dough used for making breads is fermented by bakers yeast
(Saccharomyces cerevisiae).
Toddy (a traditional drink from South India made by fermenting sap
from palm trees)
Cheese making
o The bacterium Propionibacterium sharmanii is used in Swiss
cheese to give it its characteristic holes by producing large
amount of carbon dioxide.
o Roquefort cheese is ripened by growing certain fungi on them
to give them their specific flavour.
Industrial applications
For industrial purposes, microbes are grown in large vessels called


On industrial scale, fermented beverages, antibiotics, enzymes, and

other bioactive molecules are prepared using microbes.
Fermented beverages
Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also called brewers yeast, is used to
prepare wine, beer, whisky, brandy, rum, etc. depending upon the
type of raw material and processing.
If fermented broth is distilled, then brandy and rum are produced
while wine and beer are produced without distillation.
o Certain microorganisms inhibit the growth of other
microorganisms wherever they grow.
o Antibiotics are chemical substances produced by certain
microbes that kill or retard the growth of other microbes
(disease-causing microbes).
o Penicillin discovered by Alexander Fleming was the first
antibiotic to be discovered.
o Fleming discovered it by chance when he was working on the
bacterium Staphylococcus. He discovered that growth of
Staphylococcus ceases in the culture plates where Penicillium
notatum was grown.
o Later on, its use as an effective antibiotic was established by
Chain and Florey.
Chemicals, enzymes, and bioactive agents

Substance produced


Fungus Aspergillus

Citric acid

Acetobacter aceti

Acetic acid

Clostridium butylicum

Butyric acid


Lactic acid

Yeast S.cerevisiae



Streptokinase (used as a clot buster for removing

clots from blood vessels of patients with
myocardial infarction)

Fungus Trichoderma

Cyclosporin A (used as immune-suppressive

agent in organ transplantation)

Yeast Monascus

Statins (lower blood cholesterol levels)

Microbes: Applications in Sewage Treatment and Biogas Production

Microbes in Sewage Treatment
Sewage basically consists of human excreta. It may contain many
microbes, which may be pathogenic also.
Sewage disposal is a huge problem. It cannot be directly disposed
into rivers and streams. Hence, it has to be treated first in sewage
treatment plants (STPs).
The heterotrophic microbes present in the sewage itself aid in its
Treatment of sewage includes two stages primary treatment and
secondary treatment.


Primary Treatment Involves physical removal of particles by

filtration and sedimentation
o Initially, sequential filtration is used to remove floating debris.
o Then, grit (soil + small pebbles) are removed by
sedimentation. Solids that settle down form the sludge while
the supernatant forms the effluent.
o Effluent is taken for secondary treatment.
Secondary Treatment

o Effluent is passed to aeration tank Constant agitation Air

pumped Vigorous growth of bacteria Floc formation
Consumption of organic matter by bacteria Decrease in BOD
o BOD is the amount of oxygen required by bacteria to oxidise all
the organic matter present in the effluent.
o Naturally, if organic matter decreases BOD decreases
Pollution decreases
What is a floc?
Floc = Bacteria + Fungal filaments (in a mesh-like structure)
o When BOD and hence pollution is reduced, effluent is passed
into a settling tank. Here, flocs settle down and it is known as
Activated Sludge.

o In anaerobic sludge digesters, anaerobic bacteria act on the

activated sludge to produce biogas (CH4, CO2, H2S).
o The effluent from secondary treatment plant is released into
water bodies.
o Microbial technology for sewage treatment is so effective that
no human technology has been able to beat it till date.
Microbes in Production of Biogas


Microbes produce many gases during their metabolism.

The type of gas produced depends upon the substrate they grow on
and the type of microbe.
Anaerobic bacteria usually produce methane along with CO 2 and H2.
Such bacteria are called methanogens.Example - Methanobacterium
Methanogens are commonly found in anaerobic sludge (as in sewage
treatment) and in the rumen of cattle. In the rumen of cattle, these
bacteria help in cellulose digestion.
Hence, excreta of cattle (gobar) are rich in methanogens. Biogas is
also called gobar gas.
Biogas Plant Components of biogas plant:

o Concrete tank Here, slurry of dung is fed. It is a 10 15 feet

deep tank.
o Floating cover Placed on slurry; rises as the gas is produced
o utlet It is connected to the pipe.
o Pipe It supplies the biogas to nearby houses.
o Outlet for spent slurry Spent slurry can be used as a fertiliser.
Biogas plant is usually set up in rural areas since cow dung is
available in abundance there.
Biogas is used for cooking and lighting.
Biogas technology in India is due to the efforts of:
o IARI (Indian Agricultural Research Institute)
o KVCI (Khadi and Village Industries Commission)
Microbes: Bio control Agents and Biofertilizers


Microbes as Bio control Agents

Chemical insecticides and pesticides are harmful as:
o They kill the useful and harmful life forms indiscriminately.
o They are toxic to human beings as well as in the long run.
o If all insects of a particular species are killed, then the natural
predator-prey relationship and food chains will get distorted.
Hence, biological means to eradicate pests can be used. This
requires knowledge of the life forms (predator + prey) that inhabit a
particular area, their life cycles, and patterns of feeding and preferred
Example Ladybirds and dragonflies are used to get rid of aphids and
Microbes can also act in the same manner. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)
is used to control butterfly caterpillars.
This bacterium is available in sachets as dried spores, which are
sprayed on the crops. The spores get into the gut of the larvae and
kill it while the other insects remain unperturbed.
By methods of genetic engineering, the genes of B. thuringiensis
responsible for killing the larvae have been incorporated into the
Cotton plant with Bt gene incorporated is called Bt-cotton.
The fungus Trichoderma living in roots of plants acts as a bio control
agent against several plant pathogens.
Baculoviruses, particularly genus Nucleopolyhedrovirus,are also used
as narrow spectrum insecticidal agents.
Bio control agents are particularly useful when useful insects are
required to be conserved under IPM (integrated pest management
Microbes as bio-fertilizers

Chemical fertilizers contribute to the pollution.

Bio-fertilizers are organisms that enrich the nutrient quality of the soil.
Many bacteria, fungi, and cyanobacteria act as biofertilizers.
They act as bio-fertilizers by living in symbiotic association with root
nodules of leguminous plants such as Rhizobuim.
These bacteria fix atmospheric nitrogen and enrich the nitrogen
content of soil.


Fungi also form symbiotic associations with plants (Mycorrhiza) such

as Glomus. They absorb phosphorus and pass it to plants.
Cyanobacteria such as Nostoc, Anabaena, etc. also fix atmospheric
nitrogen and act as bio-fertilizers especially in paddy fields.

Biotechnology: Principles and processes

What is biotechnology?
Biotechnology refers to the technology using biology, which has
applications in agriculture, food processing industry, medicine
diagnostics, bioremediation, waste treatment, and energy production.
The European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB) defines
biotechnology as the integration of natural science and organisms,
cells, parts thereof and molecular analogues for products and
Basis of Modern Biotechnology
Genetic engineering Introduction of foreign genetic material
(DNA/RNA) into the hosts genome and altering its phenotype
Aseptic techniques Involves maintenance of contamination-free
ambience in chemical engineering processes for manufacture of
products such as antibiotics, vaccines, etc.This is done so as to
enable the growth of only desired microbes responsible for a
Genetic Engineering
Asexual reproduction preserves the genetic information while sexual
reproduction preserves variations.
Plant and animal hybridization procedures often result in introduction
of undesirable genes along with desirable ones.
Genetic engineering overcomes this limitation.
Genetic engineering includes:
o Creation of recombinant DNA
o Gene cloning
o Gene transfer into host organism


The introduced piece of DNA does not replicate in the host unless it is
integrated with the chromosome of host.
For getting replicated, the foreign DNA must integrate into the host
DNA sequence having origin of replication. When this integration
occurs, foreign DNA is replicated and many copies are formed. This
process is called cloning (the process of formation of multiple
identical copies of DNA).
Construction of a Recombinant DNA
Plasmid (autonomously replicating, circular, extra-chromosomal DNA)
is isolated.
Plasmid DNA acts asa vector since it is used to transfer the piece of
DNA attached to it to the host.
Plasmid DNA also contains genes responsible for providing antibiotic
resistance to the bacteria.
Plasmid DNA was cut with a specific restriction enzyme (molecular
scissors that cut a DNA at specific locations).
The DNA of interest (to be inserted) was also cut with the same
restriction enzyme.
The DNA of interest is hybridised with the plasmid with the help of
DNA ligase to form a Recombinant DNA.
Recombinant DNA is then transferred to a host such as E.coli, where
it replicates by using the hosts replicating machinery.
When E.coli is cultured in a medium containing antibiotic, only cells
containing recombinant DNA will be able to survive due to antibiotic
resistance genes and one will be able to isolate the recombinants.
Restriction Enzymes as Tools of RDT
Restriction enzymes are specialised enzymes that recognise and cut
a particular sequence of DNA.
Nucleases are of two types:
o Endonucleases Cut the DNA at specific positions within the
o Exonucleases Cut the DNA at the ends (Remove the
nucleotides at the ends of the DNA)
Every restriction enzyme identifies different sequences (Recognition
sequences). Over 900 restriction enzymes have been isolated, all of
which recognise different sequences.


Recognition sequences are pallindromic- Pallindromes are the

sequence of base pairs that read same both backwards and forwards
(i.e., same

Restriction enzymes cut a little away from the centre of pallindrome

site, but between the same two bases on the opposite strands.

As a result, overhangs (called sticky ends) are generated on each


Sticky ends form hydrogen bonds with their complementary

counterparts with help of DNA ligases.
All these processes form the basis of RDT.


Naming restriction enzyme

o Ist letter Genus of the organism from which the enzyme is
o IInd and IIIrd letters Species of the organism
o IVth letter Name of the strain
o Roman number Order of isolation
E.g., In EcoRI Derived from E.coli, strain R.
It is the Ist to be discovered.
Gel Electrophoresis
The fragments obtained after cutting with restriction enzymes are
separated by using gel electrophoresis.
Electric field is applied to the electrophoresis matrix (commonly
agarose gel) and negatively charged DNA fragments move towards
the anode.
Fragments separate according to their size by the sieving properties
of agarose gel. Smaller the fragment, farther it moves.
Staining dyes such as ethidium bromide followed by exposure to UV
radiations are used to visualise the DNA fragments.
DNA fragments are visible as bright orange coloured bands in the
agarose matrix.


These bands are cut from the agarose gel and extracted from the gel
piece (elution).
DNA fragments are purified and these purified DNA fragments are
used in constructing recombinant DNAs.
Cloning vectors & host as tools of RDT
Cloning Vectors
Plasmids and bacteriophages are commonly used as cloning vectors.
Both of these have the ability to replicate within the bacterial cells
independent of the chromosomal DNA.
Bacteriophages Have high copy number (of genome) within the
bacterial cell
Plasmids May have 1 2 copy number to 15 100 copy number
per cell
If foreign DNA is linked to these vectors, then it is multiplied to the
number equal to the copy number of vector.
Features present in the vector itself help in the easy isolation of
recombinants from the non-recombinants.
Components of a plasmid cloning vector

Origin of replication (ori)

o Replication starts from ori. Any fragment of DNA when linked to
ori can be made to replicate.
o With the help of this, the genetic engineer may control copy
number of the recombinant DNA. To recover a high number,
suitable origin of replication must be chosen.
Selectable marker
o These genes help to select recombinants over nonrecombinants.


o Antibiotic resistance genes such as ampR (ampicillin resistant),

tetR (tetracycline resistant) serve as selectable markers usually.
Cloning sites
o These sites refer to the recognition sites for restriction enzymes
(such as EcoRI, Hind III, PvuI , BamHI, etc.)
o These are the sites where restriction enzymes cut the DNA.
o Cloning process becomes completed when more than one
recognition sites are present.
o Therefore, ligation is carried out only at the restriction sites
present on the antibiotic resistance genes.
How antibiotic resistance genes help in selecting recombinants?
Suppose tetR gene has Bam HI recognition site.
When BamHI is used for restriction, foreign DNA fragment is inserted
within the tetR gene.
Hence, tetracycline resistance is not present in the recombinants.
Recombinants will grow on the media containing ampicillin, but will
die on media containing tetracycline.
On the other hand, non-recombinants will grow on medium containing
ampicillin as well as on medium containing tetracycline.
In this way, antibiotic resistance gene helps in selecting
Alternate selectable marker
Other than antibiotic resistance genes, alternative markers can be
One of them is gene coding for galactosidase.
When foreign gene is inserted within -galactosidase gene, the
enzyme -galactosidase gets inactivated (insertional inactivation).
Then the bacteria are grown on a chromogenic substrate.
Non-recombinants will produce blue-coloured colonies.
Recombinants will produce colourless colonies.
Cloning vectors for plants and animals
Ti plasmid (tumour-inducing plasmid) refers to the plasmid of
Agrobacterium tumefaciens.
o A. tumefaciens is a plant pathogen. It produces tumours in the
plants it infects.


o Ti plasmid can be modified into a cloning vector by removing

the genes responsible for pathogenicity.
Retrovirus These are the viruses that infect animals. They produce
cancers in animals.
o Retroviruses can be disarmed to be used as a cloning vector.
Competent host
Competent host refers to the bacterial cells that have the ability to
take up the vector (containing Recombinant DNA).
Methods to introduce recombinant DNA into competent host:
o Cells are treated with divalent cations (e.g. Ca 2+). Then, these
cells are incubated with recombinant DNA on ice, followed by
heat shock (at 42), and then putting them back on ice. By this,
bacteria are able to take up recombinant DNA.
o Microinjection Recombinant DNA is directly injected into the
nucleus of animal cell.
o Biolistics (Gene Gun) Cells are bombarded with high
velocity micro particles of gold or tungsten.
o Disarmed vector as in case of A. tumefaciens and retrovirus
Processes of RDT
Isolation of Genetic Material (DNA)
For the processes of RDT, DNA must be available in its pure form.
First of all, cells are treated with specific chemicals to break open the
cell to release cellular components such as DNA, RNA, proteins, etc.
This is done by enzymes such as lysozymes (bacterial cell), cellulase
(plant cell), and chitinase (fungal cell).
Contaminants such as RNA and proteins are digested with the help of
ribonucleases and proteases respectively.
Addition of chilled ethanol ultimately precipitates out the purified DNA,
which can be seen as collection of fine threads in the suspension.
Cutting of DNA at Specific Locations
DNA is cut into fragments with the help of restriction enzymes.
Fragments generated after restriction are isolated with the help of gel
Recombinant DNA is obtained by hybridising gene of interest with
vector, with the help of enzyme DNA ligase.


Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

Recombinant DNA can be amplified by PCR. Several identical copies
of it can be synthesised in vitro.
Two sets of primers (chemically synthesised oligonucleotide
stretches that are complementary to a region of DNA), enzyme DNA
polymerase,and deoxynucleotides are added.
PCR consists of 3 steps:
o Denaturation Double helical DNA is denatured by providing
high temperature. DNA polymerase does not get degraded in
such high temperatures since the DNA polymerase used in this
reaction is thermostable as it is isolated from thermophilic
bacteria, Thermus aquaticus (Taq).
o Extension Replication of DNA occurs in vitro.
o This cycle is repeated several times to generate up to 1 billion
identical copies of the DNA.

Insertion of Recombinant DNA into Competent Cells

Insertion of recombinant DNA into host is done by several methods:
o Transformation in case of bacteria
o Disarmed vectors, biolistics, and micro-injections in case of
plant and animal cells


o The cells bearing recombinant DNA are selected because the

recombinants exclusively have selectable marker present in
them (similar to antibiotic resistance).
Obtaining the Foreign Gene Product
This is the stage for which the recombinant DNA was produced.
The cell containing recombinant DNA will produce a novel protein
product (desirable product/Recombinant protein).
For large scale production of the desirable product (antibiotics,
vaccines, enzymes), optimum conditions are to be provided.
Continuous culture Used culture media is drained from one side
and fresh culture media is added from the other side.
o Cells are kept throughout in their log/exponential phase.
o Larger biomass is produced by this method leading to higher
Bioreactors Large vessels in which large volumes (100 1000
litres) of culture can be produced
o Optimal growth conditions for microbes are present
(temperature, pH, substrate, salts, vitamins, etc.).


o A bioreactor has the following components - agitator system,

oxygen delivery system, foam control system, temperature and
pH control system, sampling ports.
Downstream Processing
Biosynthesis of many compounds such as enzymes, alcohols, and
antibiotics take place within the bioreactor.
The products so obtained are crude and require separation,
purification, and finishing, which is done under downstream
processing (DSP).
DSP makes a crude bio product marketable.
After proper separation and purification, preservatives are added and
the finished product is made to undergo clinical trials and quality
checks before being sent to market.

Biotechnology and its Applications

Genetically Engineered Crops
Genetically engineered crops have desirable genes (as of insect/pest
resistance, giving better yield) incorporated in them.
Genetically modified crops have
o more tolerance to abiotic stresses such as cold, drought,
salinity, heat, etc.
o insect/pest resistance
o reduced post-harvest losses
o efficient mineral usage by plants
o enhanced nutritional value (e.g., Vitamin A rich rice)
Bt Cotton


Bacillus thuringiensis is a bacterium that produces proteins to kill

certain insects such as lepidopterans (armyworm), coleopterans
(beetles), and dipterans (flies/ mosquitoes). B. thuringiensis produces
a protein crystal containing a toxic protein (inactivated state).
Inactivated toxin
Activated toxin (gut of insect)
Activated toxin binds to the epithelial cells in the midgut of insect and
creates pores that cause lyses and swelling and eventually death of
This toxin is encoded by a gene called Cry in the bacterium. Genes
encoded by Cry IAc and Cry II Ab control cotton bollworms and those
encoded by Cry IAb control corn borer.
Cry genes are introduced into the cotton plants to produce Bt cotton,
which is an insect resistant variety of cotton.
RNA Interference (RNAi)
RNAi is a method adopted to prevent infestation of roots of tobacco
plants by a nematode Meloidegyne incognitia.
In RNAi, a complementary RNA binds to mRNA to form a ds RNA,
which cannot translate and hence, its expression is blocked
This complementary mRNA may come from
o infection by RNA viruses
o transposons (mobile genetic elements)
RNAi exists naturally in eukaryotes as a method of cellular defence.
Nematode specific genes (DNA) were introduced in the host plant.
The introduced DNA forms both sense and anti-sense RNA.
Two strands being complementary to each other bend and form ds
RNA, leading to RNAi.
mRNA of nematode is silenced and the parasite cannot survive in the
transgenic host.
Applications of Biotechnology in Medicine
Recombinant Therapeutics
With the help of RDT, mass production of efficient therapeutic drugs
can be accomplished.
These are safe and do not induce unwanted immunological response.
Genetically Engineered Insulin


Insulin is in great demand due to increase in number of patients with

adult onset diabetes.
Insulin extracted from animal source (example, slaughtered cattle and
pigs) induce allergy in humans.
Insulin as a pro-enzyme consists of 3 peptide chains A, B, and C.
Pro-enzyme insulin
Mature insulin
Mature insulin consists of only two peptide chains A and B. Both
these chains were separately isolated and introduced in plasmids of
E. coli to produce insulin chains.
Separately produced chains A and B were extracted and combined by
creating a disulphide bond to form mature human insulin.
Gene Therapy
Gene therapy is an attempt to deal with genetic or congenital
This aims at correction of a genetic defect by delivery of a normal
gene into an individual or embryo to take over or compensate the
function for a non-functional gene.
The first disease to have a gene therapy is ADA (Adenosine
deaminase) deficiency. In this, the gene coding for enzyme ADA gets
deleted leading to deficiency of ADA and problems in immune
ADA deficiency can also be treated with:
o Bone marrow transplantation
o Enzyme replacement therapy
Gene therapy for ADA deficiency:
o Lymphocytes isolated from patients blood are cultured in-vitro.
o Functional ADA cDNA are then introduced into the cultured
o These lymphocytes are returned back to the patients body.
Lymphocytes are not immortal. Therefore, repeated infusion of
genetically engineered lymphocytes is required.
Permanent cure Introduction of gene isolated from bone marrow
cells producing ADA into cells at early embryonic stages
Molecular Diagnosis


Recombinant DNA technologies, PCR, ELISA (enzyme linked

immuno sorbent assay) are some of the technologies of molecular
Early diagnosis of bacteria and virus in body, when the concentration
is extremely low, can be done by PCR since it amplifies the DNA
several folds.
PCR is used to detect HIV virus in suspected AIDS patients and
mutations in genes in suspected cancer patients.
ELISA is based on antigen-antibody interactions. In the presence of
an antigen, the antibody produced against it can be detected.
Hybridisation with a radioactive probe In this approach, gene is
hybridized with a radioactive probe and autoradiography is used for
detection. The regions where mutation is present in the gene will not
appear in the photographic film since probe will not be able to bind
with that part.
Transgenic Animals & Biopiracy
Transgenic Animals
Animals that have their DNA manipulated to possess or express an
extra gene are called transgenic animals.
Till date, transgenic rats, rabbits, pigs, sheep, cows, and fish have
been produced.
Reasons for Producing Transgenic Animals
Study of normal physiology
o Transgenic animals serve as models to study genetics,
regulation and down regulation of genes, and their
corresponding effects on physiology.
o They give information about the biological role of a particular
factor in the body.
Study of diseases
o They act as models to study genetic basis of diseases.
o These studies aid in finding possible treatments of diseases.
o Transgenic models exist of various human diseases such as
cancer, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimers, etc.
Biological products


o Treatment of diseases often requires certain products that are

expensive to make.
o Transgenic animals can be produced that have genes, coding
for that particular product.
o Example Human protein -1-antitrypsim used to treat
emphysema is isolated by this method.
o In 1997, first transgenic cow Rosie produced human proteinenriched milk, which contained -lactalbumin and was
nutritionally more suitable for human babies.
Vaccine safety tests
o Transgenic mice are used to test vaccines for their safety
before they are used for humans.
o Example Transgenic mice are used to check polio vaccines.
Chemical safety testing
o Transgenic animals contain genes that make them more
sensitive to toxic substances than non-transgenic.
o Toxicity testing in such animals helps us to obtain results in less
Ethical Issues Associated with Transgenic Animals
Indian government has set up an organization GEAC (Genetic
Engineering Approval Committee), which makes decisions regarding
validity of GM research and its use for public utility.
Modification which may result in the loss of biological significance of
animals cannot go beyond regulation.
Unpredictable results may be observed, if these organisms are
introduced in natural ecosystem.
Patents for transgenic varieties also create problems as many
indigenous varieties are claimed by multinational companies as their
own inventions.
For example A new variety of Basmati was claimed by an American
company through patenting. This new variety was actually derived by
Indian farmers by crossing Indian Basmati with semi-dwarf varieties.
Similarly Neem and turmeric, which have been used for ages in
Indian medicines, are also matters of dispute for patent rights.


Use of bio-resources by MNCs and other organisations without

proper authorisation from countries and people concerned without
compensatory payment
Industrialized and developed nations are economically rich, but poor
in biodiversity while opposite prevails for developing nations.
Therefore, developed countries exploit traditional knowledge and
resources of poor countries for commercialisation.
This is a matter of injustice since inadequate compensation and
benefit sharing is given to poor countries in return. Therefore, steps
should be taken by developing countries to prevent this exploitation.
The Indian parliament has recently introduced second amendment of
Indian patents bill to deal with these issues.


Organisms and Environment

Ecology deals with interactions among different organisms and their
Organisms get adapted to their environment for their survival and
The rotation of the earth about its axis brings about changes in the
environment, leading to different seasons. This leads to the formation
of various biomes such as desert, grassland, etc.
Life not only exists in favourable habitats, but also in harsh and
extreme conditions.
The environment of an organism can be divided into:
o Abiotic factors
o Biotic factors
Abiotic Factors
Some of the major abiotic factors that interact with the organisms are:


o Temperature It is the most relevant abiotic factor since all

organisms require an optimum temperature for their metabolism
and other body functions. Depending upon their ability to
tolerate temperature range, organisms are of two typesstenothermal (restricted to a narrow range of temperature) and
eurythermal (can tolerate a wide range of temperature).
o Water Water also is a major influencing factor. Life on earth is
impossible without water as it forms the major constituent of all
living cells. In oceans where quantity of water is not a limitation,
the quality of water becomes one. Depending upon the ability to
tolerate salinity, organisms can be stenohaline (restricted to
narrow range of salinity) and euryhaline (tolerant to wider range
of salinity).
o Soil The nature and composition of soil differs from one place
to another depending upon the climate, weathering process,
and soil development method. The characteristic features such
as soil composition, grain size, percolation, water holding
capacity, etc. determine the native of the organisms it can
o Light The major source of light on earth is the Sun. Light is
essential for plants to perform photosynthesis. Certain plants
become adapted to perform photosynthesis under very low light
since they are constantly overshadowed by tall trees. Many
plants also depend on light for their flowering (photoperiodism).
The availability of light on land is comparatively higher than that
in water.
Responses to Abiotic Factors
All organisms in order to sustain maximum functionality maintain a
constant internal environment (homeostasis). An organism may adopt
one of the following strategies for homeostasis:
o Regulate Certain animals have the ability to maintain a
constant temperature and a constant osmolarity to keep up
their homeostasis. Mammals have a constant body temperature
(37C) irrespective of the outside temperature. In summers, to
maintain the temperature, we sweat and in winters we shiver,
which produces heat.
o Conform Animals and plants except mammals do not have a
constant body temperature and their body temperature changes
in accordance with the outside temperature. Such organisms


are called conformers. Conformers have not evolved. They

have become regulators since regulation is energetically more
o Migrate The organism can move temporarily from stressful
habitats to more hospitable areas and return once the period
changes. Birds can migrate from cold regions to relatively
warmer regions during winter and vice-versa during summers.
o Suspend Some organisms cease to be metabolically active
during stressful period. They suspend all activity and enter a
period of dormancy. For example Spores in bacteria and
lower plants; and hibernation (winter sleep) and aestivation
(summer sleep) in animals Similarly, zooplankton enter
diapause, a stage of suspended development during
unfavourable conditions.
Adaptations are certain characteristics that organisms develop in
order to survive and reproduce better in their habitat.
These adaptations can be physiological, behavioural, or
Some of the adaptations are:
o Desert plants have thick cuticle on their leaf surface and
stomata arranged in deep pits to reduce water loss. Their
special photosynthetic pathway CAM enables their stomata to
remain closed during day time. Their leaves are reduced to
spines and photosynthesis is carried out by flattened stems.
o Animals of colder regions have shorter limbs and ears to
minimise heat loss (Allens rule) and the body is covered by
thick fur to reduce the heat loss. Their body has a thick layer of
fat (blubber) below their skin that acts as an insulator to
minimise heat loss.
o People living in high altitudes have high RBC production and
increased breathing rates.
o Some desert animals are capable of burrowing in order to
escape the heat. In addition, some desert animals such as
kangaroo rat are able to meet their water requirement through
internal fat oxidation. They also have ability to concentrate their


It is a group of similar individuals living in a geographical area,

sharing similar resources, and capable of interbreeding.
Population has certain attributes, which individual organisms do not
o Birth rate per capita births
o Death rate per capita deaths
o Sex ratio Ratio of number of males to females in a population
Age distribution
o A population can be composed of individuals of different age
o Age distribution plot for a given population is given by the age
o The structure of the age pyramid determines the growth status
of the population, whether it is growing, stable, or declining.

Population size, more technically, is referred to as population density

(N), which indicates the number of individuals inhabiting a particular
If the population is huge, then relative density is measured instead of
absolute density whose measurement is time-consuming.
Population Growth
The size of a population is an ever-changing aspect since it depends
upon availability of food, predation, weather conditions, etc.
This gives us an idea whether a certain population is growing or
Some of the reasons for the increase or decrease in population:
o Natality (B) Number of births during a given period in the
given population
o Mortality (D) Number of deaths during a given period in the
given population
o Immigration (I) Number of individuals of the same species
who have come into the habitat from elsewhere during a given


o Emigration (E) Number of individuals of the same species

who have left the habitat and gone elsewhere during a given
If N is the population at time t, then its density at t + 1 is
Nt + 1 = Nt + [(B + I) (D + E)]
Growth Models
Exponential Growth When the resources are unlimited, population
tends to grow in an exponential pattern.
o If the population size is N and the birth and death rates (not per
capita) are b and d respectively, then increase or decrease in N
at t (time period) is given by,
dN /dt = (b d) N
If (b d) = r, then
dN/ dt = rN
r is the intrinsic rate of natural increase.
Nt = N0 ert
Nt Population density at time t
N0 Population density at time 0
r Intrinsic rate of natural increase
e Base of natural logarithms (2.71828)
Logistic growth When the resources are limited leading to
competition between individuals and survival of the fittest, the
population tends to grow in a logistic manner.
o In this kind of growth, there is an initial lag phase followed by
acceleration or deceleration phases and finally asymptote,
when it reaches its carrying capacity (K).
o When N in relation to t is plotted, it results in a sigmoid curve
called the Verhulst Pearl Logistic growth given by,


N Population density at time t

r Intrinsic rate of natural increase
K Carrying capacity

Life History Variations

Populations tend to increase their reproductive fitness in order to
survive better. This is known as Darwinian fitness (high r value).
Some of the trends they follow in course of achieving this:
o Some organisms breed only once in their lifetime. Example Salmon, Bamboo
o Some breed many times. Example - Birds, mammals
o Some produce a large number of small-sized offsprings.
Example - Oyster
o Some produce small number of large-sized offsprings. Example
- Birds, Mammals
Population Interactions
A natural habitat consists of many organisms living together and
these organisms communicate and interact with each other. For
example, plants depend on insects for pollination.
Interspecific interactions are interactions between two different
species of organisms. They can be either beneficial or harmful to one
or both partners.
Interspecific interactions
Predation It is beneficial to the predator while the prey is harmed.
o It acts as a means of transfer of energy to the next higher
trophic level and of maintaining balance in the ecosystem.
o For plants, herbivores are predators and some plants produce
secondary metabolites, thorns, or poisonous chemicals to ward
off predators.


o Similarly, animals also camouflage themselves to protect

themselves from predators. Some preys are poisonous or
distasteful (Monarch butterfly is highly distasteful because of a
special chemical it acquires during its caterpillar stage by
feeding on poisonous weeds) so as to avoid predators.
Competition It occurs only in closely related species wherein they
share the same type of habitat and food resources.
o However, for competition to take place resources need not be
always scarce and competition does not necessarily take place
between same species.
o In competition, the fitness of one species is significantly lower in
presence of another species and survival of fittest ultimately
takes place.
o Gauses Competitive Exclusion Principle states that two closely
related species competing for the same resource cannot coexist indefinitely and the competitively inferior will be eliminated

o Moreover, some species may develop mechanisms to facilitate

their co-existence.
Parasitism In this interaction, one of the partners is benefited
because it resides outside or inside the body of the host and gets free
accommodation and food while the host is affected due to loss of
o Parasites in nature have developed a wide variety of
adaptations such as hooks and suckers for attachment, loss of
digestive system, high reproducing capacity, etc.
o Parasites can live either outside (ectoparasites) or inside
(endoparasites) the body of the host organisms.
o Brood parasitism is seen in birds in which the parasitic bird lays
its egg in the nest of the unassuming host bird, which takes
care of them until they hatch. For example, Koel lays its eggs in
the nest of the crow.
Commensalism In this interaction, one of the partners is benefited
while the other is neither benefited nor harmed.
For example, an orchid growing as an epiphyte on the mango tree


The orchid gets support while the mango tree is unaffected.

Mutualism or symbiosis In this interaction, both the partners are
For example, lichens, interaction of algae and fungi, where both are
The fungi give support to the algae while the algae prepare the food
for the fungi.

Ecosystem is the interaction of living things among themselves and
with their surrounding environment.
There are two basic ecosystems terrestrial and aquatic.
Structure of Ecosystem
The interactions between the various biotic and abiotic factors of an
ecosystem lead to the maintenance of the ecosystem.


Stratification is the vertical distribution of the different species

occupying the different levels. For example, trees occur at a higher
level then shrubs.
The various aspects taken into consideration to study the functioning
of ecosystem are:
o Productivity
o Decomposition
o Energy flow
o Nutrient cycling
A constant supply of sunlight is required for the proper functioning of
any ecosystem.
The amount of biomass produced per unit area over a time period by
plants during photosynthesis is defined as the primary productivity.
It is expressed as weight (g2) or energy (Kcal m2).
Productivity can be mainly divided into gross primary productivity
(GPP) and net primary productivity (NPP). GPP is the rate of
production of organic matter during photosynthesis.
NPP = GPP Respiratory losses (R)
Secondary productivity is defined as the rate of formation of new
organic matter by consumers.
Primary productivity depends upon
o type of plant species inhabiting a particular area
o photosynthetic capacity of plants
o nutrient availability
Annual net productivity for whole biosphere is about 170 b tons of
organic matter.
It is the process of breakdown of complex organic matter into
inorganic substances such as carbon dioxide, water, nutrients, etc.
Fragmentation Breaking down of detritus (dead plant and animal
remains, faecal matter) into smaller particles by detritivores
Leaching - Process by which these inorganic matters enter the soil
Catabolism Process by which detritus is degraded into simpler
inorganic substances by bacterial and fungal enzymes


Humification Accumulation of humus in the soil.

Humus is resistant to microbial action and decomposes at an
extremely slow rate. It acts as a reservoir of nutrients.
Mineralization Process by which humus further degrades to
release minerals into the soil
It is an oxygen consuming process and is controlled by the chemical
composition of detritus and climatic conditions.
Energy Flow
Sun is the sole source of energy for all ecosystems on the earth.
Plants and other photosynthetic organisms utilize less than 50% of
the solar radiation known as the photosynthetically active radiation
In an ecosystem, plants are called producers and all animals depend
upon the plants directly or indirectly for their food. Hence, they are
known as consumers or heterotrophs.
The consumers can be further divided into primary consumers
(herbivores), secondary consumers (primary carnivores), and tertiary
consumers (secondary carnivores).
Food chain The energy flow among the various constituent
animals is known as the food chain.
Food web The interconnection of the various food chains is called
the food web.
Trophic level Every organism occupies a specific level in their food
chain known as the trophic level.
Standing crop Each trophic level contains a certain amount of
living material at a certain time known as the standing crop.
The number of trophic levels in a food chain is restricted since the
energy transfer follows the 10 percent law i.e., only 10% of the
energy is transferred from a lower trophic level to a higher one.
Ecological Pyramids
The energy relationship between the different trophic levels is
represented by the ecological pyramids.
Their base represents the producers or the first trophic level while the
apex represents the tertiary or top level consumer.
Ecological pyramids are of 3 types:
o Pyramid of number


o Pyramid of biomass
o Pyramid of energy

In most ecosystems, the three pyramids are upright except in some

o The pyramid of biomass is inverted in an ocean ecosystem
since a small standing crop of phytoplankton supports a large
number of zooplankton.
o The pyramid of number can be inverted when, say, a large tree
is eaten by small insects.
o However, the pyramid of energy is always upright.
A trophic level represents a functional level and not a single species
as such. Also, a single species may become a part of more than one
trophic level in the same ecosystem at the same time depending
upon the role it plays in the ecosystem.
Limitations of ecological pyramids:
o The ecological pyramids do not take into account the same
species belonging to more than one trophic level.


o It assumes a simple food chain that almost never exists in

nature. It does not explain food webs.
o Saprophytes are not given a place in ecological pyramids even
though they play a vital role in ecosystem.
Ecological Succession
The composition of all ecosystems keeps on changing with change in
their environment. These changes finally lead to the climax
Climax community It is the community which is in equilibrium with
its environment. Gradual and fairly predictable change in the species
composition of a given area is called ecological succession.
Sere(s) It is the sequence of communities that successively change
in a given environment. The transitional communities are called seral
stages or seral communities.
Succession happens in areas where no life forms ever existed as in
bare rocks, cool lava, etc. (primary succession), or in areas which
have lost all life forms due to destructions and floods (secondary
Primary succession takes hundreds to thousands of years as
developing soil on bare rocks is a slow process. Secondary
succession is faster than primary succession since the nature does
not have to start from scratch.
During succession, any disturbances (natural/man-made) can convert
a particular seral stage to an earlier one.
Hydrarch succession It takes place in wet areas and converts
hydric conditions to mesic.
Xerarch succession It takes place in dry areas and converts xeric
conditions to mesic.
Pioneer species These are the species that first invade a bare
area. On land, these could be lichens that secrete enzymes to
dissolve the rock surfaces for soil formation while in water, pioneer
species could be phytoplanktons.
The ultimate result of all successions is a climax community, a mesic.
Nutrient Cycling
The amount of nutrients present in the soil at a given time is known
as the standing state.


Nutrients are never lost from the ecosystem. They are only recycled
from one state to another.
The movement of nutrients through the various components of the
ecosystem is called nutrient cycling or biogeochemical cycles. They
are of two types:
o Gaseous Reservoir for these types of cycles exist in the
o Sedimentary Reservoir for these types of cycles exist in the
earths crust.
Carbon Cycle
About 49% of the dry weight of living organisms is made up of
The ocean reserves and fossil fuels regulate the amount of CO 2 in the
Plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere for photosynthesis, of which
a certain amount is released back through respiratory activities.
A major amount of CO2 is contributed by the decomposers who
contribute to the CO2 pool by processing dead and decaying matter.
The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has been increased
considerably by human activities such as burning of fossil fuels,
Phosphorus Cycle
Phosphorus is an important constituent of cell membranes, nucleic
acids, and cellular energy transfer systems.
Rocks contain phosphorus in the form of phosphate.
When rocks are weathered, some of the phosphate gets dissolved in
the soil solution and is absorbed by plants.
The consumers get their phosphorus from the plants.
Phosphorus returns back to the soil by the action of phosphatesolubilising bacteria on dead organisms.



Biodiversity and Conservation

Biodiversity occurs not only in the species level, but also in the
macromolecular levels.
Biodiversity as described by Edward Wilson is the combined diversity
at all levels of biological organisation.
The most important forms of biodiversity are:
o Genetic diversity (diversity at the genetic level)
o Species diversity (diversity at the species level)
o Ecological diversity (diversity at the ecosystem level)
There are close to 1.5 million plants and animals that have to be
discovered and described. More species have been discovered in
temperate regions as compared to tropics.
According to an estimate made by Robert May, global species
biodiversity is about 7 million.
Of the total species discovered so far, 70% are animals and 22% are
plants. Of the animals, 70% are insects.
India has 2.4% of the worlds land and 8.1% of the total species
diversity. According to Mays estimate, 78% of the biodiversity is still
to be discovered.
Applying this to Indias biodiversity figures, there still is a scope for
discovery of over 1 lakh species of plants and 3 lakh species of
Patterns of Biodiversity
Latitudinal gradients The plants and animals are not distributed
evenly worldwide. The diversity of living forms decreases as we go
from the equator towards the poles. A huge amount of plants and
animals are concentrated in the tropical region because of the
following reasons.
Tropical environment is less seasonal and almost constant and
predictable as compared to temperate environment.
Tropics receive the major part of the solar energy, which contributes
to great productivity.
Speciation is dependent upon time. Tropical areas have remained
undisturbed for millions of years unlike temperate regions, which
have experienced frequent glaciations in the past.


Species-Area relationships Alexander von Humboldt observed

that biodiversity increases with increase in explored area. This
relationship can be given by,
log S = log C + Z log A
S = Species richness
A = Area
Z = Slope of the line (regression co-efficient)
C = Y-intercept
Value of Z is found to lie in the range of 0.1 to 0.2 for comparatively
smaller areas such as countries while for very large areas such as
entire continents, the slope of the line is much steeper with Z value
lying from 0.6 to 1.2.
Importance of biodiversity & Loss of Biodiversity
What is the importance of biodiversity on the Earth?
There is no exact answer to this question, but experiments conducted
by many ecologists have demonstrated that a system with greater
biodiversity is more stable and has greater productivity.
In the long run, biodiversity is related with overall health of our
ecosystem and survival of human race on the earth.
Characteristics of a stable community:
o It should not show much variation in productivity from year to
o It must be either resistant or resilient to occasional
o It must be resistant to invasion by alien species.
Loss of Biodiversity
Due to human activities, the natural wealth is getting lost rapidly.
The last 20 years have seen the loss of 27 species.
Some of the causes of this loss are:
o Habitat loss and fragmentation This is the major cause for
loss of biodiversity. Habitat destruction is caused by human
activities such as deforestation and increasing pollution, leading
to the loss of many plants and animals.


o Over-exploitation Humans due to their greed and increased

exploitation of natural resources have contributed to the
endangerment of commercially important species of plants and
animals. Example Species such as Stellers sea cow and
passenger pigeon have been extinct due to over exploitation by
o Alien-species invasion The unintentional or deliberate
introduction of alien species causes the declination of the
indigenous species. Example Nile perch introduced in Lake
Victoria led to the extinction of more than 200 species of cichlid
fish in the lake.
o Co-extinction When a plant or animal becomes extinct,
another plant or animal which is dependent on it in an
obligatory way also becomes extinct. Example In case of
plant-pollinator mutualism, the extinction of one partner will
eventually lead to the extinction of other also.
Biodiversity Conservation
Biodiversity conservation is necessary because of the following
o Many commercially important products are obtained by nature
such as food, fibre, wood, and countless industrial products.
o Certain activities and products cannot be accomplished without
the help of nature such as production of oxygen and pollination.
o Intangible benefits such as aesthetic pleasure are derived from
o Conserving the species we share our planet with and passing
the rich legacy of biodiversity to our future generations is our
ethical duty.
Biodiversity can be conserved by:
o In-situ conservation - In order to conserve biodiversity better,
some of the worlds biodiversity hotspots (with high degree of
biodiversity and endemism) have been identified and are
protected. In India, biosphere reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, and
national parks are built for this purpose.
o Ex-situ conservation - The threatened species of plants and
animals are taken out of their habitats and are kept in special
settings as in zoological parks, botanical gardens, and wildlife


Nowadays, the gametes of endangered species can be

preserved viable by methods such as cryopreservation and can
be fertilized in-vitro followed by propagation through tissue
culture methods. Similarly, seeds can be preserved in seed


Environmental Issues
Pollution is the undesirable change brought about by chemical, particulate
matter, or biological materials to air, water, or soil.
Air Pollution
Air is a complex, dynamic natural entity, which is essential for
supporting life on earth.
Air pollutant is a substance that causes harm to the humans and
other living organisms.
Some of the common pollutants of air:


o Nitrogen dioxide
o Sulphur dioxide
o Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide
o Volatile organic compounds
o Particulate matter
Control of Air Pollution
Air pollution causes severe respiratory disorders in humans and other
animals and also affects plants. It can be controlled by the following
o Fitting smokestacks and smelters, with filters to separate
pollutants from the harmless gases
o Particulate matter can be removed by using an electrostatic
precipitator. It contains electrode wires maintained at several
thousand volts, which produce electrons. These electrons cling
on to dust particles and give them a net negative charge and
are attracted by collecting plates, which are grounded. The
velocity of air passing through the plates should be low enough
to allow the dust to fall.


o A scrubber can be used to remove gases such as SO2 wherein

the exhaust passes through a spray of water or lime.

o Vehicular pollution can be reduced by using less polluting fuels

such as CNG, which is more efficient and less costly as
compared to petrol or diesel. In 2002, all the buses were
switched to CNG in Delhi and this has indeed led to a fall in
pollution levels in the city.
o Vehicles can be fitted with catalytic converters that have
metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium as catalysts.
These catalysts carry out the following conversions:
Unburnt hydrocarbons CO2 and H2O
Carbon monoxide Carbon dioxide
Nitric oxide Nitrogen gas
Unleaded petrol must be used with catalytic converters as presence of
lead in the petrol inactivates the catalyst.
Greenhouse Effect
It is a natural phenomenon that keeps the earths atmosphere warm.


o Without this phenomenon, the temperature of the earth would

become too cold for living beings to survive.
o The greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, etc.) absorb the heat of
sun and the earth and emit it back to the earths surface.
o Thus, these gases prevent a part of heat rays from escaping
into atmosphere.
o This cycle is repeated many times to maintain the earths
temperature to an optimum 15C.
The concentration of these gases has increased due to increased
industrialisation, leading to the heating up of the earths surface
(global warming).
This has increased the overall temperature of the earth, resulting in
changes in the earths climate. During the last century, the
temperature of earth has increased by 0.6C.
This increase in temperature is ultimately believed to cause the
melting of polar ice caps, rise in the sea level, and submerging of the
coastal areas.
Greenhouse effect can be controlled by reducing the use of fossil
fuels, which produce greenhouse gases on burning, afforestation,
efficient energy usage, etc.
Water Pollution
Water is very essential for the maintenance of life on earth.
Due to human activities, water bodies have become polluted all over
the world.
Some of the common pollutants and their sources are:


o Domestic sewage It mainly contains organic matter, which is

biodegradable. Microorganisms involved in their degradation
consume a lot of oxygen and the BOD of the water body
increases leading to the death of fishes and other aquatic life.
Sewage also contains many pathogenic microbes, which may
cause the outbreak of many diseases such as typhoid,
jaundice, etc.
o Industrial Effluents Industrial effluents contain inorganic
toxic substances, which may undergo biomagnification
(increase in concentration of a toxin at successive trophic
levels). The toxin gets accumulated in the body of an organism
and is passed on to the next level. For example, DDT and other
heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, etc.
o Thermal wastewater discharge Heated water flowing out of
the thermal power plants increase the temperature of the water
body. It eliminates the cold water species and promotes the
warm water species. In the long run, it causes damage to the
indigenous biodiversity of the water body.
o It is the ageing of a water body due to nutrient enrichment of its
water. It can be natural or artificial.
o The natural process takes thousands of years, but due to
human activities, this process has got accelerated
(accelerated/cultural eutrophication).
o Release of nutrient rich sewage and industrial effluents lead to
introduction of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus and
increase in temperature and BOD of the water body, causing
increased biological activity, thereby leading to algal blooms.
This results in the loss of indigenous flora and fauna.


o In some cases, large masses of floating plants (bog) develop,

finally converting the water body into land.
Control of Water Pollution
Raw sewage can be treated using biological and other means to
remove the solid, suspended, and inorganic materials before it is
released back into the environment.
Nitrogenous fertilizers can be denitrified using microbes, which can
convert nitrate and nitrite into gaseous nitrogen by a process called
Integrated wastewater management as practiced in Arcata,
California- In this approach, the water is first treated by conventional
means such as filtration, sedimentation, and chlorine treatment,
followed by bioremediation. (Marshes having appropriate plants,
bacteria, fungi, and algae were seeded, which assimilate dangerous
pollutants such as heavy metals)
Solid Waste
Consists of all the unwanted undesired materials thrown into the
It may be composed of biodegradable or non-biodegradable wastes.
Open dumps used for disposing solid waste serves as breeding
ground for rats and flies. Therefore, sanitary landfills are used as a
substitute for these.
Biodegradable wastes can be either aerobically on anaerobically
broken down using microbes. The non-biodegradable waste can be
recycled, reused, or dumped in landfills.


Hospital wastes also contain hazardous materials, which have to be

disposed properly. Hospital wastes are generally incinerated.
Irreparable computers and other electronic goods make up e-wastes,
which are either dumped in land fills or are incinerated. E-waste can
be recycled also to recover metals such as copper, iron, silicon, gold,
To use the plastic waste in an efficient way, polyblend, a fine powder
of recycled modified plastic, has been developed. When polyblend is
mixed with bitumen, it can be used to lay roads with greater water
repellent capacity and greater life.
Agrochemicals and Radioactive Wastes
The increased use of pesticides, fertilizers for increasing the produce
has led to eutrophication and biomagnifications in water sources.
In order to check this, the concept of organic farming is increasingly
becoming popular. In this technique, instead of using chemical
fertilizers and pesticides, natural materials and techniques such as
organic manure (cow dung manure), compost, biological pest control,
and crop rotation are used. This leads to a balanced soil, which does
not cause soil infertility, but causes the rejuvenation of the soil.
Radioactive Wastes
Nuclear energy is a non-polluting energy except the threats posed by
accidental leakage and difficult disposal of radioactive waste.
Radioactive substances cause severe damages such as mutations
and cancer in lower doses and higher doses can be lethal.


Radioactive wastes should be suitably pre-treated in shielded

containers buried under rock surfaces about 500 m under the earths
Improper Utilisation of Resources
Natural resources can get degraded by their improper use.
o Soil erosion and desertification Over-cultivation,
overgrazing, deforestation, and poor irrigation techniques lead
to soil erosion and desertification.
o Water logging and soil salinity - Lack of proper drainage
leads to water logging, which affects the crops and also leads to
increase in the salinity of the soil.
Ozone Depletion and Deforestation
Ozone Depletion
The ozone layer is found in the upper part of the stratosphere.
It protects the earth from the harmful UV rays of the Sun. High energy
UV rays break the bonds within the molecules such as DNA and
Ozone is formed by the action of UV rays on oxygen molecule and its
thickness is measured in Dobson units (DU).
The ozone layer is getting depleted by the action of
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) found in refrigerants and perfumes.
The CFCs are acted upon by UV rays in the stratosphere, liberating
the Cl atoms, which act as catalysts to degrade ozone into molecular


The ozone depletion is particularly greater in Antarctica, resulting in

the formation of a large thinned ozone layer commonly known as
ozone hole.
The UV rays of shorter wavelength cause skin cancers, mutations in
the cellular DNA, snow-blindness, cataract, etc.
To check this ozone depletion, Montreal Protocol was passed in
1987 to control the use of substances that cause ozone depletion.
It is the unlimited cutting of trees and conversion of forests into
cultivable land.
In the beginning of 20th century, India had 30% of its area under
forests, which was reduced to just 19.4% by the end of 20 th century.
Deforestation is a result of a number of human activities such as
increased population and the demand for land.
Trees are cut for timber, fuel, and also for Slash and burn
agriculture, also called Jhum cultivation. In this, trees are cut and
plant remains in the forest are burned since the ash acts as a
Some of the major effects of deforestation are the increase in carbondioxide levels, loss of habitat for wild animals, soil erosion, and
consequent desertification.
Deforestation can be controlled by reforestation and afforestation.
In 1980s, the concept of Joint Forest Management was introduced
by the government of India. In this, support of local communities was
taken for conservation of forests and in return, the local people were
free to use the products obtained from the forests.