Molecular Biology (Encyclopedia of Science)
Molecular biology is the study of life at the level of atoms and molecules. Suppose, for example, that one wishes to understand as much as possible about an earthworm. At one level, it is possible to describe the obvious characteristics of the worm, including its size, shape, color, weight, the foods it eats, and the way it reproduces.
Long ago, however, biologists discovered that a more basic understanding of any organism could be obtained by studying the cells of which that organism is made. They could identify the structures of which cells are made, the way cells change, the substances needed by the cell to survive, products made by the cell, and other cellular characteristics.
Molecular biology takes this analysis of life one step further. It attempts to study the molecules of which living organisms are made in much the same way that chemists study any other kind of molecule. For example, they try to find out the chemical structure of these molecules and the way this structure changes during various life processes, such as reproduction and growth. In their research, molecular biologists make use of ideas and tools from many different sciences, including chemistry, biology, and physics.
The Central Dogma
The key principle that dominates molecular biology is known as the Central Dogma. (A dogma is an established...
(The entire section is 916 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!