Introduction to general biology: from molecules to systems (2006/2007)

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Course code
Name of lecturer
Monica Mottes
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
1st quadrimester (for 2nd and 3rd years of degrees in IT, for the 2nd year of degrees in applied mathematics and for the 4th and 5th years of specialised degrees) dal Oct 2, 2006 al Dec 1, 2006.

Lesson timetable

Learning outcomes

This course is a compulsory introduction to two other courses: Mathematical models for biology and Mathematical models in biomedicine. It aims to provide students with basic knowledge of modern biology in an evolutionary perspective, emphasizing molecular and cellular processes common to all living organisms. Some aspects of human biology of special biomedical interest will be discussed. Topics such as: duplication, expression, transmission of genomes, their variations and evolution will be treated as well as materials, methods and applications of the recombinant DNA technology. The main goal of this course is to introduce students of Applied Mathematics to the biological language and to current problems in molecular genetics, in order to allow them to interact with other researchers in an interdisciplinary fashion.


The origins of life. Biological molecules. The evolutionary theory: its central role in understanding biological fenomena. The cell: structure and functions. Prokaryotic cell. General biology of prokaryotes. General biology of viruses. Eukaryotic cells. The cell membrane, organelles. Methods and instruments in cell investigations. From unicellular to multicellulars organisms.
Energy and metabolism. Cell respiration. Photosynthesis. Enzymes and coenzimes. Cell communication. Cell division, cell cycle and its regulation. Cell death. The nucleus. Chromosomes and chromatin. DNA: structure, replication, function. The informational pathway: transcription, translation, the control of gene expresiion in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Gene regulation and development. Recombinant DNA technology . The Human Genome project. Mutations, mutagens, DNA repair. Somatic mutations and cancer. Sexual reproduction, gametogenesis. Genetic determination of sex. Human karyotype and its defects. Hereditary transmission of characters, Mendel’s laws. Mendelian inheritance in man.

Suggested textbook: Solomon Berg Martin: Biology. VII edition.2005 Brooks/Cole div. of Thomson Learning. IV italian edition: EdiSES s.r.l. Napoli, 2005

Assessment methods and criteria

written test with multiple choice questions and open questions. Oral colloquim will follow. Students are encouraged to choose a favourite subject for oral presentation