Biology

Introduction to Biology

Biology is the scientific study of life. The word “Biology” has been derived from two Greek words; ‘bios’ meaning ‘life’ and ‘logos’ meaning ‘thought or reasoning’. In the course of biology, we will study how man has thought about living things. To understand and appreciate nature, it is essential to study the the structures, functions and related aspects of living organisms. The study of living organisms also provides information and remedies to human problems regarding health, food, environment etc.

Divisions and Branches of Biology

There are three major divisions of biology which study the different aspects of the lives of the major groups of organisms.

1.  ZOOLOGY

This division of biology deal with the study of animals.

2.  BOTANY

This division of Biology deals with the study of Plants.

3.  MICROBIOLOGY

This division of biology deals with the study of microorganisms such as bacteria etc.

Molecular biology (biochemistry deals with the study of the molecules of life; e.g. Water, Proteins, Carbohydrates, Lipids, and nucleic acids.

In order to study all the aspects of life, these divisions are further divided into different branches as defined below.

Morphology:

This branch deals with the study of form and structures of living organisms.

Anatomy:

The study of internal structures is called anatomy.

Histology:

The microscopic study of tissues is called histology.

Cell biology:

The study of the structures and functions of cells and cell organelles is called cell biology. This branch also deals with the study of cell division.

Physiology:

This branch deals with the study of the functions of different parts of living organisms.

Genetics:

The study of genes and their roles in inheritance is called genetics. Inheritance means the transmission of characters from one generation to the other.

Embryology:

It is the study of the development of an embryo to new individual.

Taxonomy:

It is the study of the meaning and classification of organisms into groups and subgroups.

Paleontology:

It is the study of fossils, which are the remains of extinct organisms.

Environmental biology:

It deals with the study of the interactions between the organisms and their environment.

Socio-biology:

This branch deals with the study of social behaviour of the animals that make societies.

Parasitology:

This branch deals with the study of parasites.

Parasites are the organisms that take food and shelter from living hosts and, in return, harm them.

Biotechnology:

It deals with the practical application of living organisms to make substances for welfare of mankind.

Immunology:

It is the study of immune system of animals, which defends the body against invading microbes.

Entomology:

It is the the study of insects

Pharmacology:

It is the study of drugs and their effects on the systems of human body.

Human population growth infectious diseases, addictive drugs and pollution are the major biological issues today.

Relationship of Biology with other Sciences

The interrelationship among different  branches of science cannot be denied. Biology includes information on various aspects of living things but these information relate to the other branches of science as well. Each branch of science has relationship with all other branches. For example, when studying the process of movement in animals, the biologists have to refer to the laws of motion in physics. This forms the basis of interdisciplinary sciences.

Biophysics:

It deals with the study of the principle of physics, which are applicable to biological phenomena. For example, there is a similarity between the working principles of lever in physics and limbs of animals in biology.

Biochemistry:

It deals with the study of the chemistry of different compounds and processes occurring in  living organisms. For example, the study of basic metabolism of photosynthesis and respiration involves the knowledge of chemistry.

Biomathematics / Biometry:

It  deals with the study of biological processes using mathematic techniques and tools. For example, to analyze the data gathered after experimental work, biologists have to apply the rules of mathematics.

Biogeography:

It deals with study of the occurrence and distribution of different species of living organisms in different geographical regions of the world. It applies the knowledge of the characteristics of particular geographical regions to determine the characteristics of living organisms found there.

Bioeconomic:

It deals with the study of organisms from economical point of view. For example the cost value and profited value of the yield of wheat can be calculated through bioeconomic and benefits or losses can be determined.

Careers in Biology

It is essential that students of today, who will occupy positions of leadership tomorrow, have the background of the modern and forward-looking branches of science. An accurate and modem knowledge of biology, will promote a comprehension of both science and scientific research projects. It will benefit the learners in diverse list of careers. The following are the careers that a student of biology can plan to adopt.

Medicine/Surgery:

The profession of medicine deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases in human. In surgery the parts of the body may be repaired, replaced or removed, for example the removal of stones through renal surgery, transplantation of kidney, liver etc. Both these professions are studied in the same basic course (MBBS) and then students go for specializations.

Fisheries:

Fisheries is the professional study of fish production. There are departments in Pakistan where professionals of fisheries are employed. They serve for enhancing the quality and quantity of fish production. In Pakistan, this profession can be adopted after the bachelor or masters level study of zoology and fisheries.

Agriculture:

This profession deals with the food crops and animals which are the source of food. An agriculturist works for the betterment of crops like wheat, rice, corn etc and animals like buffalo.cow etc from which we get food, In Pakistan there are many universities which offer professional courses on agriculture after the higher secondary education in biology.

Animal husbandry:

It is the branch of agriculture concerned with the care and breeding of domestic animals (livestock) e.g. cattle, sheep etc. Professional courses in animal (livestock) e.g. cattle, sheep etc. Professional courses in animal husbandry can be adopted after the higher secondary education in biology.

Horticulture:

It deals with the art of gardening. A horticulturist works for the betterment of existing varieties and for the production of new varieties of ornamental plants and fruit plants Biology students can adopt this profession after their higher secondary education.

Farming:

It deals with the development and maintenance of different types of farm. For example in some farms animal breeding technologies are used for the production of animals which are better protein and milk source. In poultry farms chicken and eggs are produced. Similarly in fruit farms, different fruit yielding plants are grown. A student who has gone through the professional course of agriculture, animal husbandry or fisheries etc. can adopt this profession

Forestry:

In forestry, professionals look after natural forests and advise to the government for planting and growing artificial forests/ Many universities offer professional courses in forestry after the higher secondary education in biology or after bachelor level study of zoology and botany.

Biotechnology:

It is the latest profession in the field of biology. Biotechnologists study and work for the production of useful products through microorganisms Universities offer courses in biotechnology after the higher secondary education in biology and after the higher secondary education in biology and after the bachelor level studies of botany or zoology.

Quran and Biology

At many places in Holy Quran, Allah hints about the origin and characteristics of living organisms. In the same verses human beings have been instructed to expose the unknown aspects of life, after getting the hints. Here are few examples of such guidelines.

وجعلنا من الها كل شي وحيد

“We made every living thing from water.”

(Sura: Ambia, Verse: 30)

We know that water makes the 60-70% of the composition of protoplasm of all living things The above Verse hints at the common origin of all living things in water. As Allah has ordered human beings to think at the hints given by Him, we should study living things so that the mysteries of their origin can be revealed.

خلق الانسان من صلصال الفخاره

“He made man from clay like the potter.”

(Sura: Rehman, Verse: 14)

In another verse, God says:

ثم خلقنا النطفة علقة فخلقنا العلقة مطبقة تخلقنا المضغة عظما فكسونا العظم لحما

“Then fashioned We the drop a clot, then fashioned We the clot a little lump, them fashioned We the little lump bones, then clotted the bones with flesh”

(Sura: Al-Mominoon, Verse: 14)

When we think at the hints given in both these Verses, we find the events that occurred the creation of human beings. Allah also hints at the method of the development animals including human beings.

والله خلق كل دابة من ماء فمنهم من يمشي على بطنة ومنهم من يمشي على رجلين ومنهم من يمشي على أربع يخلق الله مايشاء إن الله على كل شيء قدير

“Allah hath created every animal from water. Then some of them creep up over their bellies, others walk on two legs, and others on four. Allah creates what He pleases.”

(Sura: Al-Nur, Verse: 45)

This Verse describes the common origin and modification of organisms and also supports the modem concepts of classification.

Thus, Quran hints not only at the origin and development of life but also at many characteristics of living organisms.

Muslim Scientists

Muslim scientists have made great contributions to the study of science and we are aware of their success in different fields of science. Here we would summarize the work of Jabir Bin Hayan, Abdul Malik Asmai and Bu Ali Sina in the development of the present day knowledge of plants and animals.

Jabir Bin Hayan (721-815 AD):

He was born in Iran and practised medicine in Iraq. He introduced experimental investigation in chemistry and also wrote a number of books on plants and animals. His famous books are “Al-Nabalat” and “Al-Haywan”.

Abdul Malik Asmai (740-828 AD):

He is considered the first Muslim scientist who studied animals in detail. His famous writings include “Al-Abil (camel)”, “Al-Khail (horse)”, “Al-Wahoosh (animal)”, and “Khalq al-ansan”.

Bu Ali Sina (980-1037 AD):

He is honoured as the founder of medicine and called as Avicenna in the West. He was a physician, philosopher, astronomer and poet. One of his books “Al-Qanun-fi al-Tib” is known as the canon of medicine in the West.

Photograph of Bu Ali Sina commemorated on a ticket in Poland
Photograph of Bu Ali Sina commemorated on a ticket in Poland
Jabir Bin Hayan
Jabir Bin Hayan

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