Biology GCSE Words/Definition Flashcards

All the key words that will set you off

  • Created by: JF2016
  • Created on: 20-11-16 21:46
Used in the classification of living organisms, referring to related organisms capable of interbreeding.
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A taxonomic rank between kingdom and class (the plural is phyla). The arthropods, for example, are a phylum.
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A rank in classification below family and above species.
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Having two parts to a name. In the binomial system of classification, each organism is named for its genus then its species.
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A method of classification that groups organisms according to characteristics of a common (shared) ancestor.
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Deoxyribonucleic acid. The material inside the nucleus of cells, carrying the genetic information of a living being.
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Ribonucleic acid, a type of genetic material.
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The respiratory organ found in fish and other aquatic animals. Gills have a large surface area, and a good blood supply, for efficient gas exchange to happen in water.
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Arthropods are an important group of invertebrates.
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An animal without a backbone.
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An organism that lives in or on another organism (the host). The parasite receives nutrients from the host, harming the host as it does so.
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Things that set off a reaction in the nervous system, for example, light, heat, sound, gravity, smell, taste, or temperature. The singular is stimulus.
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Dry Mass
The mass of an organism after its water has been removed.
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Grown without the use of artificial pesticides and fertilisers, or relating to or coming from living matter.
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Contains the green pigment chlorophyll; the site of photosynthesis.
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A chemical process used by plants and algae to make glucose and oxygen from carbon dioxide and water, using light energy. Oxygen is produced as a by-product of photosynthesis.
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Animals store glucose as glycogen in their liver and muscle tissues.
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A type of carbohydrate. Plants can turn the glucose produced in photosynthesis into starch for storage, and turn it back into glucose when it is needed for respiration.
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A disaccharide made from glucose and fructose, it is used as table sugar.
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Hard and tough natural material made from glucose molecules joined together. Chitin is found in cell walls of fungi and in the exoskeletons of arthropods.
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Microorganism that causes disease.
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The network of hyphae produced by a fungus.
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Fine, branching, thread-like filaments produced by fungi.
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Saprotrophic Nutrition
A type of feeding in which digestive enzymes are secreted outside the cell onto food material, followed by absorption of the products.
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A protein which catalyses or speeds up a chemical reaction.
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Polymers of sugars, such as glycogen and starch, made from many simple sugar molecules joined together.
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The structure made of DNA that codes for all the characteristics of an organism.
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The small circular genetic material present in bacterial cells and used in genetic engineering or genetic modification.
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Living entity, eg. animals, plants or microorganisms.
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Cell structure that is specialised to carry out a particular function or job
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Basic structural and functional unit of a living organism
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Group of cells with similar structures, working together to perform a shared function
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Structure made up of a group of tissues, working together to perform specific functions
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Organ System
Group of organs with related functions, working together to perform body functions
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Where most of the chemical reactions happen.
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Contains genetic material which controls the cell’s activities
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Cell Membrane
Controls the movement of substances in and out of the cell
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Where most energy is released in respiration
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Where protein synthesis happens
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Cell Wall
Strengthens the cell and supports the plant
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Permanent Vacuole
Filled with cell sap to help keep the cell turgid
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A space within the cytoplasm of plant cells that contains cell sap.
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Become shorter
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The amount that an image of something is scaled up when viewed through a microscope.
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The dissolved substance in a solution.
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The liquid in which the solute dissolves to form a solution.
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Tiny air sacs in the lungs, where gas is exchanged during breathing.
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Concentration Gradient
The difference in the concentration of a chemical across a membrane.
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The movement of particles (molecules or ions) from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration.
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The movement of water molecules across a partially-permeable membrane from a region of low solute concentration to a region of high solute concentration.
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Enlarged and swollen with water. Having turgor.
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Chemical change that takes place inside living cells, which uses glucose and oxygen to produce the energy organisms need to live. Carbon dioxide is a by-product of respiration.
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A simple sugar made by the body from food, which is used by cells to make energy in respiration.
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Finger-like projections in the small intestine that provide a large surface area for the absorption of food.
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Partially Permeable Membrane
Also called semi-permeable. A partially permeable membrane allows water and other small molecules to pass through but not larger molecules such as starch.
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The amount of matter an object contains. Mass is measured in 'kg'.
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Two solutions at the same concentration are described as isotonic.
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All the chemical reactions in the cells of an organism, including respiration.
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Covalently Bonded
A bond between atoms formed when atoms share electrons to achieve a full outer shell of electrons.
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Food belonging to the food group consisting of sugars, starch and cellulose. It is vital for energy in humans, and is stored as fats if eaten in excess. In plants, carbohydrates are important for photosynthesis.
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Fat or oils composed of fatty acids and glycerol.
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Naturally occurring compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. They are esters made from fatty acids and glycerol.
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Natural substances produced from the reaction of glycerol with fatty acids.
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Organic compound made up of amino acid molecules. One of the three main food groups, proteins are needed by the body for cell growth and repair.
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Amino Acids
The building blocks that make up a protein molecule.
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A collection of two or more atoms held together by chemical bonds.
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Active Site
The part of the enzyme to which a specific substrate can attach or fit on to.
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A substance on which enzymes act.
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If a substance is denatured, its structure and function is altered. This can be caused by heat, altered pH or by chemical agents.
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Scale of acidity or alkalinity. A pH (power of hydrogen) level below 7 is acidic, a pH level above 7 is alkaline.
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Cloudy mixture formed between a lipid and water.
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When a person's body is not prone to a disease because they have a resistance to it.
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Taking little or no physical activity as part of everyday living.
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Measuring the amount of heat given out or taken in by a process, such as the combustion of a fuel.
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Improves the appearance of the food
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Improves the taste of the food
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Makes the food taste sweeter. Artificial sweeteners are used to sweeten ‘diet’ foods.
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Stops the growth of microbes (such as bacteria or moulds in food), giving it a longer ‘shelf life’
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Stops chemical reactions in food that make it go stale
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Alimentary Canal
The digestive tract which runs from mouth to anus.
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A substance formed by the chemical union of two or more elements.
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Electrically charged particle, formed when an atom or molecule gains or loses electrons.
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The gullet, the tube that leads from the mouth to the stomach.
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Muscular organ in the digestive system that produces hydrochloric acid and protease enzymes.
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Wave-like muscular contractions in the smooth wall of the gut which move food through the alimentary canal.
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The breakdown of large insoluble food molecules to smaller soluble ones.
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A catalyst changes the rate of a chemical reaction without being changed by the reaction itself.
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Fatty Acids
Carboxylic acids with a long chain of carbon atoms (usually 4 to 22). Fatty acids react with glycerol to produce lipids (fats and oils).
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A soluble carbohydrate which is coverted into glucose by the liver.
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A disaccharide made from two glucose molecules joined together.
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An enzyme found in yeast, which can break down starch into simple sugars.
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Another name for a microbe. It is microscopic and is an organism, such as a virus or bacteria.
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Corrosive substance which has a pH lower than 7. Acidity is caused by a high concentration of hydrogen ions.
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Having a pH greater than 7.
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A substance produced in the liver. It emulsifies fats to prepare them for digestion.
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To be made neutral by removing any acidic or alkaline nature.
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The liquid which circulates within a mammal's body transporting the products of fat digestion from the lacteals.
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Active Transport
The transport of molecules against their concentration gradient from a region of low concentration to a region of high concentration.
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A carbohydrate. It forms the cell wall in plant cells.
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Large Intestine
The lower part of the alimentary canal (gut) where absorption of water and production of faeces happens.
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The process of passing out the remains of food that has not been digested, as faeces, through the anus.
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Narrow, hollow, dead tubes with lignin responsible for the transport of water and minerals in plants.
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The vessels in plants that transport sugars.
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Spongy Mesophyll
The plant tissue in a leaf which has loosely packed cells and air spaces between them to allow gas exchange.
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Tiny holes in the epidermis (skin) of a leaf - usually on the undersides of leaves. They control water loss and gas exchange by opening and closing. Singular is stoma.
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The loss of water from leaves by evaporation. It is much faster when stomata are open than when they are closed.
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Palisade Mesophyll
Plant tissue containing closely packed cells in the upper layer of a leaf.
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The amount of crops harvested from a certain area.
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'Hyper-nutrition' resulting from fertiliser pollution of aquatic ecosystems. Results in oxygen depletion and reduced ability to support life.
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In chemical reactions, a situation where the forward and backward reactions happen at the same rate, and the concentrations of the substances stay the same.
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The alcohol which is produced as a result of fermentation of sugars by yeast.
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Able to ignite and burn
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Substances that cause harm to people or the environment.
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Aerobic Respiration
Respiration that requires oxygen.
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A nitrogenous waste product resulting from the breakdown of proteins. It is excreted in urine.
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Urinary System
The urinary system consists of two kidneys, two ureters, the bladder, and the urethra. Its main purpose is to remove waste from the body.
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Renal Artery
The renal artery carries blood to the kidneys.
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Renal Vein
The renal vein takes blood away from the kidneys.
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The waste product secreted by the kidneys.
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The organ that collects urine as it is produced by the kidneys, and releases it when an animal urinates.
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The tube leading from the kidney to the bladder.
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The inner part of the kidney.
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The outer layer of the kidney between the renal medulla and renal capsule.
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Tiny blood vessels with walls one-cell thick where exchange of materials occurs.
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The process by which the glomerulus filters water, ions, glucose and other small molecules from the blood.
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Blood Plasma
The liquid part of the blood containing useful things like glucose, amino acids, minerals, vitamins (nutrients) and hormones, as well as waste materials such as urea.
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Negative Feedback Mechanism
Changes are reversed and returned to normal levels to keep conditions stable.
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Protein Synthesis
The production of proteins from amino acids, which happens in the ribosomes of the cell.
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Lactic Acid
A toxic chemical produced during anaerobic respiration.
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Chemical substances are oxidised by the addition of oxygen, removal of hydrogen or the removal of electrons.
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The process where seeds sprout and begin to grow.
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Soft and floppy.
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Hydrogen Carbonate
A hydrogen carbonate ion has two negative charges and consists of one hydrogen atom, one carbon atom and three oxygen atoms.
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A part of the experiment in which all the variables except the dependent variable are kept the same. A control lets you observe the effect (if any) of changing the independent variable.
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Human Thorax
The ribs and upper backbone, and the organs found in the chest.
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The plural of 'bronchus'. The bronchi are the two major air tubes in the lungs.
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The major airway in the respiratory system, also known as the windpipe, connecting the pharynx and larynx to the lungs.
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Pleural Membranes
Thin, moist membranes surrounding the lungs that make an airtight seal.
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The many small, branching tubules into which the bronchi subdivide.
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A large sheet of muscle that separates the lungs from the abdominal cavity.
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Intercostal Muscles
Muscles between the ribs which raise the ribcage by contracting and lower it by relaxing.
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Tiny hair-like projections from a cell that usually allow it to move a substance past the cell (for example, in the bronchioles in the lungs).
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Epithelial Cell
Type of cell that lines surfaces in or on an organism.
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The red protein found in red blood cells that transports oxygen round the body.
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Circulatory System
Bodily system made up of the heart, blood vessels and blood that delivers nutrients and other essential materials to cells whilst removing waste products.
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A substance which fluids are unable to pass through.
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The transport of dissolved material within a plant.
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A chemical used to kill pests, such as the potato cyst nematode which is a pest that destroys potato crops.
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Vascular Bundles
Groups of xylem and phloem tissue in a plant.
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When a liquid changes state to a gas.
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Xylem Vessels
Narrow, hollow, dead tubes with lignin responsible for the transport of water and minerals in plants.
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Able to stick together.
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Root Hair Cell
A specialised cell that increases the surface area of the root epidermis to improve the uptake of water and minerals.
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Water Potential
Water potential is a measure of the tendency of water molecules to move from one place to another. During osmosis, water moves through a partially permeable membrane from high water potential (low solute concentration) to low water potential
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Capillary Tube
Glass tubing which is very narrow inside.
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Red Blood Cells
Transporting Oxygen
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White Blood Cells
Ingesting pathogens and producing antibodies
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Involved in blood clotting
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Surface Area
The area of the surface of an organism or membrane.
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The volume of a three-dimensional shape is a measure of the amount of space or capacity it occupies, eg a can of cola has a volume of 330 ml.
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Circulatory System
Bodily system made up of the heart, blood vessels and blood that delivers nutrients and other essential materials to cells whilst removing waste products.
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Immune System
The body's defence system against diseases and infections.
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Foreign organisms that get into the body, and trigger an immune response.
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Single-celled microorganisms, some of which are pathogenic in humans, animals and plants. Singular is bacterium.
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Cells, such as white blood cells, that engulf and absorb waste material, harmful microorganisms, or other foreign bodies in the bloodstream and tissues.
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Proteins produced by the body's immune system that attack foreign organisms (antigens) that get into the body.
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To protect from a disease, especially by inoculation.
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A type of natural poison produced by an organism, often as a form of protection.
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White blood cells which attack pathogens by producing antibodies.
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Memory Cells
White blood cells (lymphocytes) that remain in the body after the immune response to an infection has finished. They reproduce rapidly if the body is reinfected, producing a faster and greater immune response.
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Blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart.
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A blood vessel with valves that transports blood to the heart.
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Pulmonary Artery
The artery which carries deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs.
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Pulmonary Vein
The vein which carries oxygenated blood to the heart from the lungs.
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Muscular organ that pumps blood around the body.
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Pulmonary Circuit
The part of the circulatory system that involves the right side of the heart, the lungs, and the blood vessels that connect them together.
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Systemic Circuit
The part of the circulatory system that includes the left side of the heart, the rest of the body apart from the lungs, and the blood vessels that connect them together.
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In the heart, the atria (plural) are the upper chambers which collect blood returning from the body (right atrium) or from the lungs (left atrium).
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The lower chamber of the heart that receives blood from the atrium and pumps it into arteries.
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Chemical messengers produced in glands and carried by the blood to specific organs in the body.
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Fatty Plaques
Fatty patches that form inside arteries. They can prevent or restrict blood flow, causing high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes.
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A fatty substance known as a lipid.
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Saturated Fat
Fat that contains only saturated fatty acids. Foods which contain saturated fat include butter, cream and cheese.
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Any change in the environment that can be detected by receptors in an organism.
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Things that set off a reaction in the nervous system, for example, light, heat, sound, gravity, smell, taste, or temperature. The singular is stimulus.
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Sensory Neurone
The nerve cell that transmits electrical impulses from receptors in the sense organs to the CNS.
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Relay Neurone
The nerve cell that transmits electrical impulses from sensory neurones to motor neurones.
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Motor Neurone
The nerve cell that carries electrical impulses from the CNS to effectors such as muscles or glands.
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Organ which has an effect when stimulated (eg muscles or glands).
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Another term for a nerve cell that is specialised to transmit electrical impulses.
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Chemical involved in passing nerve impulses from one nerve cell to the next across a synapse.
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Reflex Action
Automatic and rapid response to a stimulus.
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Refracts light - bends it as it enters the eye
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Controls how much light enters the pupil
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Focuses light onto the retina
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Contains the light receptors
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Optic Nerve
Carries impulses between the eye and the brain
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To help maintain the temperature.
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Nerve Impulse
Electrical signals that travel along the nerve fibre from one end of the nerve cell to the other.
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The narrowing of the skin arterioles to reduce blood flow and reduce heat loss by radiation.
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The increase in diameter of the skin arterioles to increase blood flow and increase heat loss by radiation.
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A hormone that regulates the level of sugar in the blood. It is produced in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.
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The medical term for being overweight. Being obese is dangerous to health.
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An organ or tissue that makes a substance for release, such as a hormone.
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A material made by a chemical process, not naturally occurring.
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A substance that prevents a process or a reaction happening properly, if at all.
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A substance that can change chemical reactions in the body.
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A tiny gap at the junction between two nerve cells which nerve signals must cross.
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Organs which recognise and respond to stimuli.
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An inactive substance made to resemble a drug for researchers to use as a control.
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An ultramicroscopic infectious non-cellular organism that can replicate inside the cells of living hosts, with negative consequences.
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Petri Dish
A clear glass or plastic dish, used to grow living cells from organisms so they can be studied.
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A type of fungus.
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Human immunodeficiency virus, a very serious disease which is at present incurable.
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Inflammation of the liver, which can be caused by alcohol, viruses or bacteria.
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An unborn baby. Usually eight weeks from conception.
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Damage to the brain caused by bleeding or blood clots in the brain's blood vessels.
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A depressant that can be found in wines, spirits and beers. Also known as ethanol.
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Scarring of the liver, which can be caused by alcoholism or hepatitis.
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Sexual Reproduction
The formation of a new organism by combining the genetic material of two organisms.
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A tube in the female reproductive organ through which an egg passes from an ovary to the uterus.
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Cells with tiny hair-like structures on their surface are said to be ciliated.
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The opening to the vagina in the female reproductive system.
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Secondary Sexual Characteristics
Body features, other than the reproductive organs, that appear during puberty and which are different in males and females (such as breasts and beards).
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Also known as a womb. This is where the fertilised egg (ovum) develops.
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Also called a 'period'. The loss of blood and tissue from the lining of the uterus through the vagina during the menstrual cycle.
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The organ in the uterus of pregnant mammals that allows the transfer of nutrients and waste products between the mother and the fetus through the umbilical cord.
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Sex Cell
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A fertilised egg cell
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An organism in the early stages of development.
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Umbilical Cord
The cord that connects the foetus to the placenta. It contains blood vessels.
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The basic units of genetic material inherited from our parents. A gene is a section of DNA which controls part of a cell's chemistry - particularly protein production.
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A unit of asexual reproduction in some organisms.
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A large group of eukaryotic organisms that contain single celled yeasts, moulds and mushrooms.
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A swollen, fleshy underground stem of a plant, such as the potato, bearing buds from which new plant shoots arise.
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A place where plants, animals and microorganisms live.
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Pollen Grains
The structure produced in the anthers of a flower that contains the male gamete.
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The structure produced in the ovary of a flower that contains a female gamete.
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The fertilisation of flowers by passing on their pollen.
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A specialised leaf that attracts pollinators.
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The male part of the flower, comprising an anther attached to a filament.
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The top of the female part of the flower, which collects pollen grains.
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A stalk that holds the stigma in position in a flower.
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An organism that is genetically identical to another organism.
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Double Helix
The shape of the DNA molecule with two strands twisted together in a spiral.
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A cell that contains two sets of chromosomes.
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A sex cell (gamete) that contains one set of chromosomes.
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Reduction division in a cell in which the chromosome number is halved from diploid to haploid.
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Recessive Allele
Alternative form of a gene that is expressed only if a dominant allele of that gene is not present. An organism must have two copies of a recessive allele for that allele to be expressed.
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Dominant Allele
An allele that always expresses itself whether it is partnered by a recessive allele or by another like itself.
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This describes a genotype in which the two alleles for the characteristic are identical.
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This describes a genotype in which the two alleles for a particular characteristic are different.
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The visible characteristics of an organism which occur as a result of its genes.
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The alleles that an organism has for a particular characteristic, usually written as letters.
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All of the members of a single species that live within a geographical area.
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The extent to which a measurement, test or observation can be repeated or reproduced to get similar data to support a conclusion.
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The ability of a measurement, test or observation to be reproduced in order to increase validity of the conclusion.
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The action of coming to live permanently in another country.
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The action of leaving a country to move permanently somewhere else.
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An animal that feeds only on plants.
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An animal that eats meat or flesh only.
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A square frame of known area used for sampling the abundance and distribution of slow or non-moving organisms.
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Food Chain
A sequence (usually shown as a diagram) of feeding relationships between organisms, showing which organisms eat what and the movement of energy through trophic levels.
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Plants that begin food chains by making energy from carbon dioxide and water.
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A community of animals, plants and microorganisms, together with the habitat where they live.
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Primary Consumer
The name given to an organism that eats a producer. A herbivore.
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Secondary Consumer
An organism that obtains its energy by eating the primary consumer.
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Tertiary Consumer
An organism that obtains its energy by eating the secondary consumer.
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An organism which eats dead organisms or animal droppings, and breaks them down into simple materials.
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Food Web
A network of food chains, showing how they all link together.
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A network of food chains, showing how they all link together.
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Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria
The bacteria found free-living in the soil or in the root nodules of some plants such as peas and clover that convert nitrogen gas into nitrate.
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Haber Process
The industrial chemical process that makes ammonia by reacting nitrogen and hydrogen together.
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Ammonia is a gas at room temperature but readily dissolves in water to form an alkaline solution.
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Nitrifying Bacteria
The bacteria that produce nitrate which is released into soil.
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Egested Material
Undigested material that has passed out of the alimentary canal or gut.
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Denitrifying Bacteria
The bacteria that convert nitrates in the soil into nitrogen gas which is released into the atmosphere.
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Solid, liquid or gas. Evaporation is a change of state from liquid to gas.
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Natural Selection
The natural process whereby the best-adapted individuals survive longer, have more offspring and thereby spread their characteristics through a population. Sometimes known as 'survival of the fittest'.
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The process of change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms from one generation to the next.
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Substance that controls the spread of bacteria in the body by killing them or stopping them reproducing.
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A random and spontaneous change in the structure of a gene, chromosome or number of chromosomes.
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Selective Breeding
An artificial process in which organisms with desired characteristics are chosen as parents for the next generation.
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Describes an organism that has undergone genetic modification and has had genes transferred from another unrelated organism.
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Something that is against a good outcome.
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A tank containing nutrients, which is used to grow large numbers of bacteria or yeast.
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The way in which genetic material is transferred from a donor to a recipient, eg viruses, bacterial cells or plasmids.
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Restriction Enzymes
An enzyme that can cut DNA in specific places in the DNA molecule.
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Ligase Enzyme
An enzyme that can join pieces of DNA together.
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Beta Carotene
A red-orange pigment important in the diet for maintaining health.
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A substance used to kill weeds.
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The range of plants and animals in an ecosystem.
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Tissue Culture
Tissue culture is the growth of tissues or cells separate from an animal or plant.
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A small piece taken from a plant, used in plant cloning.
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In Vitro
In vitro experiments are done in glassware such as test tubes and Petri dishes.
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Agar Jelly
A gel made from algae, which provides an ideal growth medium.
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Diploid Nucleus
A nucleus that contains pairs of chromosomes, giving it the full number of chromosomes.
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The process of removing the nucleus from a cell, which produces an 'enucleated cell'.
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A type of cell division which produces daughter cells identical to the parent.
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An organism in the early stages of development.
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Stem Cell
A cell found in foetuses, embryos, and some adult tissues that can give rise to a wide range of other cells.
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Difference between individuals; distance from the norm.
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The joining of a male and female gamete.
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A physical or chemical agent that can induce or increase the frequency of mutation in an organism.
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Energy carried by particles from a radioactive substance, or spreading out from a source.
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Hardened tree resin.
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Sticky substance found in tobacco smoke, which can cause cancer.
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Small fragments of rock and soil.
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Fossil Record
Preserved evidence of life that provides information about the history of life on Earth.
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An animal that hunts, kills and eats other animals for food.
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A rock in space. Asteroids orbit the Sun but some may cross the Earth's orbit, producing a risk of collision.
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The formation of new and distinct species in the course of evolution.
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The loss of water from leaves by evaporation. It is much faster when stomata are open than when they are closed.
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A species that has completely died out.
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Genetic Variation
The variation in alleles of genes, both within and among populations.
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The cutting down of trees and forests to allow a different land use.
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Barren Land
An area of ground where plant growth is poor and sparse, with little biodiversity.
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Limiting Factors
A factor which, if in short supply limits or reduces the rate of photosynthesis, eg temperature, light intensity and carbon dioxide concentration.
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Aphids (greenfly) are tiny insects that feed on phloem from plants.
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A term for respiration in the absence of oxygen.
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Anaerobic Respiration
Respiration that occurs in the absence of oxygen.
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A unicellular fungus used in the brewing and baking industries.
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Greenhouse Gases
The gases responsible for global warming - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and CFCs.
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Casual Relationship
A connection between two events where the state of one affects or changes the state of the other.
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Processing waste to form new products or reusing them.
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A taxonomic rank between kingdom and class (the plural is phyla). The arthropods, for example, are a phylum.



Card 3


A rank in classification below family and above species.


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Card 4


Having two parts to a name. In the binomial system of classification, each organism is named for its genus then its species.


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Card 5


A method of classification that groups organisms according to characteristics of a common (shared) ancestor.


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