Introduction to Biology

  • Biology is a branch of science which studies living beings that all plants and animals including humans. Biology is a word derived from Greek words (Greek: bios = life; logos = study). No one can say when the study of biology exactly began but Greeks can be considered as the pioneer of an organized study of Biology.
  • Biology had flourished in India (2500 B.C. to 650 B.C.). Charak and Sushrut were practising medicine effectively. In Greece Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) rationalized study of healing and treating sick. He is called the father of medicine. Aristotle (384 – 322 B.C.) was one of these first biologists who studied animals (including marine animals) in sufficient details. He is called the founder or father of biology. He attributed the intelligence of human being to heart. His study processes helped in the development of early medicines. His student, Theophrastus (370-285 B.C.), studied plants. Their work became the foundation for further studies in biology.
  • Prior to da Vinci’s illustrations, human anatomy diagrams were constructed using dissections of apes. Leonardo da Vinci ( 5 April 1452 to 2 May 1519): He dissected dead human bodies and drawn illustrations of anatomical systems. These illustrations not only helped in the development of biology but also became invaluable to the field of medicine.  In 1543, a Belgian medical student  Vesalius published De humani corporis fabrica (The Structure of the Human Body) using woodcut pictures to depict actual human anatomy.
  • During this period, biological study primarily consisted of classifying organisms and understanding the human body on the macroscopic level. But the discovery of the microscope by Dutch scientist Anton van Leeuwenhoek in sixteenth-century opened up a whole new world of living things. In the 19th century, the theory of organic evolution and cell theory was proposed and accepted. It started the rapid growth of biology. Twentieth-century saw growth of new fields like genetics and biotechnology.

Branches of Biology:

Branches of Biology On the basis of kind of organism:

  • Botony: Botany is the scientific study of plants which include algae, fungi, lichens, mosses, ferns, conifers and flowering plants.
  • Zoology:  Zoology involves the study of animals including their classification, their history, their anatomy and physiology,
  • Microbiology: Microbiology is the study of all living organisms that are too small to be visible to the naked eye. This includes bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, prions, protozoa and algae, collectively known as ‘microbes’.
  • Human Biology: Human biology is the branch of biology that deals with human beings and human populations. It includes all the aspects of the human as organism including genetics, ecology, anatomy and physiology, anthropology, and nutrition. Human biology is related to other fields of biology such as medicine, primate biology, and biological anthropology.

Branches of Biology On the Basis of Group of Organisms:

  • Bacteriology: The science and study of bacteria and their relation to medicine and to other areas such as agriculture (e.g., farm animals) and industry is called Bacteriology.
  • Virology: Virology is the study of viruses and virus-like agents, including (but not limited to) their taxonomy, disease-producing properties, cultivation and genetics. It is often considered a part of microbiology or pathology.
  • Mycology: Mycology is the branch of biology that deals with the study of fungi. It includes the research of their genetic and biochemical properties and their use in medicine and food along with their hazards.
  • Entomology: Entomology is a branch of zoology that studies insects and how they interact with their environment, other species and humans.
  • Ichthyology: Ichthyology is the branch of zoology devoted to the study of fishes, which includes bony fish (Osteichthyes), cartilaginous fish (Chondrichthyes), and jawless fish (Agnatha).
  • Herpetology: Herpetology is the branch of zoology concerned with the study of amphibians,  reptiles. Batrachology is a further subdiscipline of herpetology concerned with the study of amphibians only.
  • Ornithology:  Ornithology is the scientific field dedicated to the study of birds.

Branches of Biology On the Basis of Approach of Study:

  • Anatomy: It is the scientific study focusing on the physical structures and parts of organisms (plants and animals).
  • Morphology: Morphology is a branch of biology dealing with the study of the form and structure (internal and external)  of organisms and their specific structural features
  • Histology:  Histology is the scientific study of the fine detail of biological cells and tissues using microscopes
  • Cytology: The study of structure and function of plant and animal cells.
  • Physiology: the branch of biology dealing with the functions and activities of living organisms and their parts, including all physical and chemical processes is called physiology.
  • Embryology: Embryology is the study of the development of an embryo from the stage of ovum fertilization through to the fetal stage.
  • Taxonomy or Systematics: The science of identifying, naming, grouping and classifying plants and animals is called taxonomy or systematics.
  • Ecology: Ecology is the scientific study of the interactions between organisms and their environment.
  • Biogeology: The study of the interaction between the Earth’s biosphere and the lithosphere.
  • Biogeography: Biogeography is a study of the distribution of various species and ecosystems geographically and throughout geological time and space.
  • Palaeontology:  the study of fossils to determine the structure and evolution of extinct animals and plants and the age and conditions of deposition of the rock strata in which they are found is called Palaeontology.
  • Evolution: evolution is the branch of biology which studies the change in the characteristics of a species over several generations and relies on the process of natural selection.
  • Genetics: Genetics is a branch of a biology that deals with heredity and variations.
  • Parasitology: Parasites are those organisms that live on or inside other organism called the host and draw nourishment from the host are called parasites. The study of parasites is called parasitology. It includes the study of three major groups of animals: parasitic protozoa, parasitic helminths (worms), and those arthropods that directly cause disease or act as vectors of various pathogens.
  • Pathology: It is a branch of biology which studies diseases in plant and animals and their treatment.
  • Immunology: The immune system protects us from infection through various lines of defence. Immunology is the study of the immune system.
  • Eugenics: the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits. Thus it is a science which aims to improve the human race through controlled heredity.
  • Biochemistry: Biochemistry is the study of the processes behind all living organisms,

Branches of Biology On the Basis of Applications:

  • Agriculture: It is a branch of biology which deals with raising crops and live stocks such as cows, buffaloes, etc.
  • Veterinary Science:  The branch of medicine that deals with the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases and injuries of animals, especially domestic animals.
  • Marine Biology: Marine biology is the study of marine organisms, their behaviours and interactions with the environment.
  • Horticulture: Horticulture is the science and art of producing, improving, marketing, and using fruits, vegetables, flowers, and ornamental plants.
  • Animal Husbandry: It is the branch of agriculture concerned with animals that are raised for meat, fibre, milk, eggs, or other products. It includes day-to-day care, selective breeding and the raising of livestock like cows, buffaloes etc.
  • Sericulture: Sericulture, or silk farming, is the rearing of silkworms for the production of raw silk.
  • Pisciculture: The breeding, rearing, and transplantation of fish by artificial means is called pisciculture.
  • Tissue Culture: Tissue culture, a method of biological research in which fragments of tissue from an animal or plant are transferred to an artificial environment in which they can continue to survive and function.
  • Molecular Biology: Molecular biology is a branch of science concerning biological activity at the molecular level. The field of molecular biology overlaps with biology and chemistry and in particular, genetics and biochemistry.
  • Biotechnology: Biotechnology is the use of biological processes, organisms, or systems to manufacture products intended to improve the quality of human life.
  • Cloning:  Cloning is a process of asexual reproduction to create offspring that are genetically identical to the parent.
  • Bioengineering: It is the branch of biology which with the help of engineering science help in making artificial limbs, joints and other parts of body using engineering materials and techniques. It also includes improvement of crops for disease resistance and yield.
  • Biomedical Engineering: Biomedical engineering is the application of engineering principles to the fields of biology and health care. Biomedical engineers work with doctors, therapists and researchers to develop systems, equipment and devices in order to solve clinical problems. The job includes design, development, production and maintenance of medical instruments.
  • Nuclear biology: Nuclear biology or radiobiology is a branch of biology which studies the effect of radioactivity on living cell and also deals with development and production of nuclear medicines for diagnosis and treatment of the diseases.
  • Space Biology: The study of survival of living things in a space is called space biology.
  • Genomics: Genomics is a study of the genomes of organisms. Its main task is to determine the entire sequence of DNA or the composition of the atoms that make up the DNA and the chemical bonds between the DNA atoms.
  • Bioinformatics: Bioinformatics is the application of information technology to the study of living things, usually at the molecular level. Bioinformatics involves the use of computers to collect, organize and use biological information to answer questions in fields like evolutionary biology.
  • Biometrics: Biometrics is a technological and scientific authentication method based on biology and used in information assurance (IA). Biometric identification authenticates secure entry, data or access via human biological information such as DNA or fingerprints.
  • Forensic science: The forensic sciences are used around the world to resolve civil disputes, to justly enforce criminal laws and government regulations, and to protect public health. The field of forensic science depends on other branches of science, including physics, chemistry, and biology, with its focus being on the recognition, identification, and evaluation of physical evidence. It has become an essential part of the judicial system to achieve information relevant to criminal and legal evidence.
  • Genetic Engineering: Genetic engineering refers to the direct manipulation of DNA to alter an organism’s characteristics (phenotype) in a particular way.

Branches of Biology On the Basis of Medical Sciences:

  • Gynaecology and Obstetrics: Gynaecology normally means treating women who aren’t pregnant, while obstetrics deals with pregnant women and their unborn children, but there is lots of crossover between the two.

  • Orthopaedics: It is a branch of medical science which is devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of injuries, disorders and diseases of the body’s musculoskeletal system. This system includes bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves and tendons.

  • Opthalmology: It is the branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eyeball and orbit.
  • Dentistry: It is a branch of medicine that consists of the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral cavity.
  • Oncology: Oncology is the branch of medicine that researchers, identifies and treats cancer.
  • Cardiology: Cardiology is a branch of medicine that concerns diseases and disorders of the heart, which may range from congenital defects through to acquired heart diseases such as coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure.
  • Urology: Urology is a surgical speciality that deals with the treatment of conditions involving the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs.
  • Nephrology: Nephrology is a branch of medical science that deals with diseases of the kidneys.
  • Paediatrics: Pediatrics is the branch of medicine dealing with the health and medical care of infants, children, and adolescents from birth up to the age of 18.
  • Dermatology: Dermatology is the branch of medicine dealing with diagnosing and treating skin diseases affecting the skin, hair, and nails.
  • Physiotherapy: Physiotherapy is a branch of medicine which uses a treatment method that focuses on the science of movement and helps people to restore, maintain and maximize their physical strength, function, motion and overall well-being by addressing the underlying physical issues.

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