Topic outline

  • 01 The Living World

    The living world is rich in variety. Millions of plants and animals have been identified and described but a large number still remains unknown. The very range of organisms in terms of size, colour, habitat, physiological and morphological features make us seek the defining characteristics of living organisms. In order to facilitate the study of kinds and diversity of organisms, biologists have evolved certain rules and principles for identification, nomenclature and classification of organisms. The branch of knowledge dealing with these aspects is referred to as taxonomy. The taxonomic studies of various species of plants and animals are useful in agriculture, forestry, industry and in general for knowing our bio-resources and their diversity. The basics of taxonomy like identification, naming and classification of organisms are universally evolved under international codes. Based on the resemblances and distinct differences, each organism is identified and assigned a correct scientific/biological name comprising two words as per the binomial system of nomenclature. An organism represents/occupies a place or position in the system of classification


    In Linnaeus' time a Two Kingdom system of classification with Plantae and Animalia kingdoms was developed that included all plants and animals respectively. This system was used till very recently. This system did not distinguish between the eukaryotes and prokaryotes, unicellular and multicellular organisms and photosynthetic (green algae) and non-photosynthetic (fungi) organisms. Classification of organisms into plants and animals was easily done and was easy to understand, inspite, a large number of organisms did not fall into either category.


    Plant kingdom includes algae, bryophytes, pteridophytes, gymnosperms and angiosperms. Algae are chlorophyll-bearing simple, thalloid, autotrophic and largely aquatic organisms. Depending on the type of pigment possesed and the type of stored food, algae are classfied into three classes, namely Chlorophyceae, Phaeophyceae and Rhodophyceae. Algae usually reproduce vegetatively by fragmentation, asexually by formation of different types of spores and sexually by formation of gametes which may show isogamy, anisogamy or oogamy


    The basic fundamental features such as level of organisation, symmetry, cell organisation, coelom, segmentation, notochord, etc., have enabled us to broadly classify the animal kingdom. Besides the fundamental features, there are many other distinctive characters which are specific for each phyla or class. 

    Porifera includes multicellular animals which exhibit cellular level of organisation and have characteristic flagellated choanocytes. The coelenterates have tentacles and bear cnidoblasts. They are mostly aquatic, sessile or free-floating. The ctenophores are marine animals with comb plates. The platyhelminthes have flat body and exhibit bilateral symmetry. The parasitic forms show distinct suckers and hooks. Aschelminthes are pseudocoelomates and include parasitic as well as non-parasitic round worms. Annelids are metamerically segmented animals with a true coelom. The arthropods are the most abundant group of animals characterised by the presence of jointed appendages. The molluscs have a soft body surrounded by an external calcareous shell. The body is covered with external skeleton made of chitin.  Phylum Chordata includes animals which possess a notochord either throughout or during early embryonic life. Other common features observed in the chordates are the dorsal, hollow nerve cord and paired pharyngeal gill slits. Some of the vertebrates do not possess jaws (Agnatha) whereas most of them possess jaws (Gnathostomata).Classes Chondrichthyes and Osteichthyes bear fins for locomotion and are grouped under Pisces. The Chondrichthyes are fishes with cartilaginous endoskeleton and are marine. Classes, Amphibia, Reptilia, Aves and Mammalia have two pairs of limbs and are thus grouped under Tetrapoda. The amphibians have adapted to live both on land and water. Reptiles are characterised by the presence of dry and cornified skin. Limbs are absent in snakes. Fishes, amphibians and reptiles are poikilothermous (coldblooded). Aves are warm-blooded animals with feathers on their bodies and forelimbs modified into wings for flying.  They commonly exhibit viviparity


    The wide range in the structure of higher plants will never fail to fascinate us. Even though the angiosperms show such a large diversity in external structure or morphology, they are all characterised by presence of roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruits.

     We also need to know about the possible variations in different parts, found as adaptations of the plants to their environment, e.g., adaptions to various habitats, for protection, climbing, storage, etc. 

    If you pull out any weed you will see that all of them have roots, stems and leaves. They may be bearing flowers and fruits. The underground part of the flowering plant is the root system while the portion above the ground forms the shoot system


    Anatomically, a plant is made of different kinds of tissues. The plant tissues are broadly classified into meristematic (apical, lateral and intercalary) and permanent (simple and complex). Assimilation of food and its storage, transportation of water, minerals and photosynthates, and mechanical support are the main functions of tissues. There are three types of tissue systems – epidermal, ground and vascular. The epidermal tissue systems are made of epidermal cells, stomata and the epidermal appendages. The ground tissue system forms the main bulk of the plant. It is divided into three zones – cortex, pericycle and pith. The vascular tissue system is formed by the xylem and phloem. On the basis of presence of cambium, location of xylem and phloem, the vascular bundles are of different types


    Cells, tissues, organs and organ systems split up the work in a way that ensures the survival of the body as a whole and exhibit division of labour. A tissue is defined as group of cells along with intercellular substances performing one or more functions in the body. Epithelia are sheet like tissues lining the body’s surface and its cavities, ducts and tubes. Epithelia have one free surface facing a body fluid or the outside environment. Their cells are structurally and functionally connected at junctions.


    what is it that makes an organism living, or what is it that an inanimate thing does not have which a living thing has’ ? The answer to this is the presence of the basic unit of life – the cell in all living organisms. All organisms are composed of cells. Some are composed of a single cell and are called unicellular organisms while others, like us, composed of many cells, are called multicellular organisms.


    The elemental composition of living tissues and non-living matter appear also to be similar when analysed qualitatively. However, a closer examination reveals that the relative abundance of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen is higher in living systems when compared to inanimate matter. The most abundant chemical in living organisms is water


    Cell division is a very important process in all living organisms. During the division of a cell, DNA replication and cell growth also take place. All these processes, i.e., cell division, DNA replication, and cell growth, hence, have to take place in a coordinated way to ensure correct division and formation of progeny cells containing intact genomes. The sequence of events by which a cell duplicates its genome, synthesises the other constituents of the cell and eventually divides into two daughter cells is termed cell cycle. Although cell growth (in terms of cytoplasmic increase) is a continuous process, DNA synthesis occurs only during one specific stage in the cell cycle.

  • 11 Transport in Plants

    Transport over longer distances proceeds through the vascular system (the xylem and the phloem) and is called translocation. An important aspect that needs to be considered is the direction of transport. In rooted plants, transport in xylem (of water and minerals) is essentially unidirectional, from roots to the stems. Organic and mineral nutrients however, undergo multidirectional transport.

  • 12 Mineral Nutrition

    Nitrogen fixation requires a strong reducing agent and energy in the form of ATP. N2 -fixation is accomplished with the help of nitrogenfixing microbes, mainly Rhizobium. 2 fixation is very sensitive to oxygen. Most of the processes take place in anaerobic environment. The energy, ATP, required is provided by the respiration of the host cells. Ammonia produced following N2 fixation is incorporated into amino acids as the amino group.

  • 13 Photosynthesis in Higher Plants

    Green plants make their own food by photosynthesis. During this process carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is taken in by leaves through stomata and used for making carbohydrates, principally glucose and starch. Photosynthesis takes place only in the green parts of the plants, mainly the leaves. Within the leaves, the mesophyll cells have a large number of chloroplasts that are responsible for CO2 fixation. Within the chloroplasts, the membranes are sites for the light reaction, while the chemosynthetic pathway occurs in the stromatal aperture. Photosynthesis has two stages: the light reaction and the carbon fixing reactions. In the light reaction the light energy is absorbed by the pigments present in the antenna, and funnelled to special chlorophyll a molecules called reaction centre chlorophylls. There are two photosystems, PS I and PS II.

  • 14 Respiration in Plants

    This chapter deals with cellular respiration or the mechanism of breakdown of food materials within the cell to release energy, and the trapping of this energy for synthesis of ATP. Photosynthesis, of course, takes place within the chloroplasts (in the eukaryotes), whereas the breakdown of complex molecules to yield energy takes place in the cytoplasm and in the mitochondria (also only in eukaryotes). The breaking of the C-C bonds of complex compounds through oxidation within the cells, leading to release of considerable amount of energy is called respiration. The compounds that are oxidised during this process are known as respiratory substrates.

  • 15 Plant Growth and Development

    AIn this chapter, you shall also study some of the factors which govern and control these developmental processes. These factors are both intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) to the plant.

  • 16 Digestion and Absorption

    Food provides energy and organic materials for growth and repair of tissues. The water we take in, plays an important role in metabolic processes and also prevents dehydration of the body. Biomacromolecules in food cannot be utilised by our body in their original form. They have to be broken down and converted into simple substances in the digestive system. This process of conversion of complex food substances to simple absorbable forms is called digestion and is carried out by our digestive system by mechanical and biochemical methods. General organisation of the human digestive system is shown

  • 17 Breathing and Exchange of Gases

    The first step in respiration is breathing by which atmospheric air is taken in (inspiration) and the alveolar air is released out (expiration). Exchange of O2 and CO2 between deoxygenated blood and alveoli, transport of these gases throughout the body by blood, exchange of O2 and CO2 between the oxygenated blood and tissues and utilisation of O2 by the cells (cellular respiration) are the other steps involved. Inspiration and expiration are carried out by creating pressure gradients between the atmosphere and the alveoli with the help of specialised muscles – intercostals and diaphragm.

  • 18 Body Fluids and Circulation

    Blood is the most commonly used body fluid by most of the higher organisms including humans for this purpose. Another body fluid, lymph, also helps in the transport of certain substances. In this chapter, you will learn about the composition and properties of blood and lymph (tissue fluid) and the mechanism of circulation of blood is also explained herein.

  • 19 Excretory Products and their Elimination

    Ammonia, urea and uric acid are the major forms of nitrogenous wastes excreted by the animals. Ammonia is the most toxic form and requires large amount of water for its elimination, whereas uric acid, being the least toxic, can be removed with a minimum loss of water

  • 20 Locomotion and Movement

    Movement of cilia, flagella and tentacles are shown by many organisms. Human beings can move limbs, jaws, eyelids, tongue, etc. Some of the movements result in a change of place or location. Such voluntary movements are called locomotion. Walking, running, climbing, flying, swimming are all some forms of locomotory movements. Locomotory structures need not be different from those affecting other types of movements.

  • 21 Neural Control and Coordination

    Coordination is the process through which two or more organs interact and complement the functions of one another. For example, when we do physical exercises, the energy demand is increased for maintaining an increased muscular activity. The supply of oxygen is also increased. The increased supply of oxygen necessitates an increase in the rate of respiration, heart beat and increased blood flow via blood vessels. When physical exercise is stopped, the activities of nerves, lungs, heart and kidney gradually return to their normal conditions. Thus, the functions of muscles, lungs, heart, blood vessels, kidney and other organs are coordinated while performing physical exercises. In our body the neural system and the endocrine system jointly coordinate and integrate all the activities of the organs so that they function in a synchronised fashion.

  • 22 Chemical Control and Coordination

    The neural coordination is fast but short-lived. As the nerve fibres do not innervate all cells of the body and the cellular functions need to be continuously regulated; a special kind of coordination and regulation has to be provided. This function is carried out by hormones. The neural system and the endocrine system jointly coordinate and regulate the physiological functions in the body.