BIG IDEA 4

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BIG IDEA 4
Biological systems interact,
and these systems and
their interactions possess
complex properties
Topics covered here:
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Macromolecules
Cell parts and functions
Interactions between systems
Interactions between organisms
Ecology
Enzymes
Bacteria
4.A.1: The subcomponents of biological molecules & their
sequence determine the properties of that molecule.
• Structure and function of polymers are derived from the way their
monomers are assembled.
Evidence of your learning is a demonstrated understanding of each of the
following:
• 1. In nucleic acids, biological information is encoded in sequences of nucleotide
monomers. Each nucleotide has structural components: a five-carbon sugar
(deoxyribose or ribose), a phosphate and a nitrogen base (adenine, thymine,
guanine, cytosine or uracil). DNA and RNA differ in function and differ slightly in
structure, and these structural differences account for the differing functions.
✘The molecular structure of specific nucleotides is beyond the scope of the
course and the AP Exam.
• In proteins, the specific order of amino acids in a polypeptide (primary structure)
interacts with the environment to determine the overall shape of the protein,
which also involves secondary tertiary and quaternary structure and, thus, its
function. The R group of an amino acid can be categorized by chemical properties
(hydrophobic, hydrophilic and ionic), and the interactions of these R groups
determine structure and function of that region of the protein.
✘The molecular structure of specific amino acids is beyond the scope of the course
and the AP Exam.
• 3. In general, lipids are nonpolar; however, phospholipids exhibit structural properties, with
polar regions that interact with other polar molecules such as water, and with nonpolar
regions where differences in saturation determine the structure and function of lipids.
✘The molecular structure of specific lipids is beyond the scope of the course and
the AP Exam.
• 4. Carbohydrates are composed of sugar monomers whose structures and bonding with
each other by dehydration synthesis determine the properties and functions of the
molecules. Illustrative examples include: cellulose versus starch.
✘The molecular structure of specific carbohydrate polymers is beyond the scope of
the course and the AP Exam.
• Directionality influences structure and function of the polymer.
Evidence of your learning is a demonstrated understanding of each of the
following:
• 1. Nucleic acids have ends, defined by the 3' and 5' carbons of the sugar in the
nucleotide, that determine the direction in which complementary nucleotides
are added during DNA synthesis and the direction in which transcription occurs
(from 5' to 3').
• 2. Proteins have an amino (NH2) end and a carboxyl (COOH) end, and consist of a
linear sequence of amino acids connected by the formation of peptide bonds by
dehydration synthesis between the amino and carboxyl groups of adjacent
monomers.
• 3. The nature of the bonding between carbohydrate subunits determines their
relative orientation in the carbohydrate, which then determines the secondary
structure of the carbohydrate.
4.A.2: The structure & function of subcellular
components, & their interactions, provide essential
cellular processes.
• Ribosomes are small, universal structures comprised of two interacting parts:
ribosomal RNA and protein. In a sequential manner, these cellular components
interact to become the site of protein synthesis where the translation of the
genetic instructions yields specific polypeptides.
• Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) occurs in two forms: smooth and rough.
Evidence of your learning is a demonstrated understanding of each of the following:
• 1. Rough endoplasmic reticulum functions to compartmentalize the cell, serves as mechanical
support, provides site-specific protein synthesis with membrane-bound ribosomes and plays
a role in intracellular transport.
• 2. In most cases, smooth ER synthesizes lipids.
✘Specific functions of smooth ER in specialized cells are beyond the scope of the
• course and the AP Exam.
• The Golgi complex is a membrane-bound structure that consists of a series of
flattened membrane sacs (cisternae).
Evidence of your learning is a demonstrated understanding of the following:
• 1. Functions of the Golgi include synthesis and packaging of materials (small molecules) for
transport (in vesicles), and production of lysosomes.
✘The role of this organelle in specific phospholipid synthesis and the packaging of
enzymatic contents of lysosomes, peroxisomes and secretory vesicles are beyond
the scope of the course and the AP Exam.
• Mitochondria specialize in energy capture and transformation.
Evidence of your learning is a demonstrated understanding of each of the
following:
• 1. Mitochondria have a double membrane that allows compartmentalization within the
mitochondria and is important to its function.
• 2. The outer membrane is smooth, but the inner membrane is highly convoluted, forming
folds called cristae.
• 3. Cristae contain enzymes important to ATP production; cristae also increase the surface
area for ATP production.
• Lysosomes are membrane-enclosed sacs that contain hydrolytic enzymes,
which are important in intracellular digestion, the recycling of a cell’s
organic materials and programmed cell death (apoptosis). Lysosomes carry
out intracellular digestion in a variety of ways.
✘ Specific examples of how lysosomes carry out intracellular digestion are
beyond the scope of the course and the AP Exam.
• A vacuole is a membrane-bound sac that plays roles in intracellular
digestion and the release of cellular waste products. In plants, a large
vacuole serves many functions, from storage of pigments or poisonous
substances to a role in cell growth. In addition, a large central vacuole
allows for a large surface area to volume ratio.
• Chloroplasts are specialized organelles found in algae and higher plants
that capture energy through photosynthesis.
Evidence of your learning is a demonstrated understanding of each of the
following:
• 1. The structure and function relationship in the chloroplast allows cells to capture
the energy available in sunlight and convert it to chemical bond energy via
photosynthesis.
• 2. Chloroplasts contain chlorophylls, which are responsible for the green color of a
plant and are the key light-trapping molecules in photosynthesis. There are several
types of chlorophyll, but the predominant form in plants is chlorophyll a.
✘The molecular structure of chlorophyll a is beyond the scope of the course
and the AP Exam.
• 3. Chloroplasts have a double outer membrane that creates a compartmentalized
structure, which supports its function. Within the chloroplasts are membranebound structures called thylakoids. Energycapturing reactions housed in the
thylakoids are organized in stacks, called “grana,” to produce ATP and NADPH2,
which fuel carbon-fixing reactions in the Calvin-Benson cycle. Carbon fixation
occurs in the stroma, where molecules of CO2 are converted to carbohydrates.
4.A.3: Interactions between external stimuli & regulated
gene expression result in specialization of cells, tissues
and organs.
• Differentiation in development is due to external and internal cues
that trigger gene regulation by proteins that bind to DNA.
• Structural and functional divergence of cells in development is due to
expression of genes specific to a particular tissue or organ type.
• Environmental stimuli can affect gene expression in a mature cell.
4.A.4: Organisms exhibit complex properties due
to interactions between their constituent parts.
• Interactions and coordination between organs provide essential biological
activities.
To foster your understanding of this concept, you can choose an illustrative
example such as:
• • Stomach and small intestines
• • Kidney and bladder
• • Root, stem and leaf
• Interactions and coordination between systems provide essential biological
activities.
To foster your understanding of this concept, you can choose an illustrative
example such as:
• • Respiratory and circulatory
• • Nervous and muscular
• • Plant vascular and leaf
4.A.5: Communities are composed of populations
of organisms that interact in complex ways.
• The structure of a community is measured and described in terms of
species composition and species diversity.
• Mathematical or computer models are used to illustrate and
investigate population interactions within and environmental impacts
on a community.
To foster your understanding of this concept, you can choose an
illustrative example such as:
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• Predator/prey relationships spreadsheet model
• Symbiotic relationship
• Graphical representation of field data
• Introduction of species
• Global climate change models
• Mathematical models and graphical representations are used to illustrate
population growth patterns and interactions.
Evidence of your learning is a demonstrated understanding of each of the
following:
• 1. Reproduction without constraints results in the exponential growth of a
population.
• 2. A population can produce a density of individuals that exceeds the system’s
resource availability.
• 3. As limits to growth due to density-dependent and density-independent factors
are imposed, a logistic growth model generally ensues.
• 4. Demographics data with respect to age distributions and fecundity can be used
to study human populations.
4.A.6: Interactions among living systems & with their
environment result in the movement of matter & energy.
• Energy flows, but matter is recycled.
• Changes in regional and global climates and in atmospheric composition
influence patterns of primary productivity.
• Organisms within food webs and food chains interact. [See also 2.D.1]
• Food webs and food chains are dependent on primary productivity.
• Models allow the prediction of the impact of change in biotic and abiotic
factors.
Evidence of your learning is a demonstrated understanding of each of the
following:
• 1. Competition for resources and other factors limits growth and can be described by
the logistic model.
• 2. Competition for resources, territoriality, health, predation, accumulation of wastes
and other factors contribute to density-dependent population regulation.
• Human activities impact ecosystems on local, regional and global
scales.
Evidence of your learning is a demonstrated understanding of each of
the following:
• 1. As human populations have increased in numbers, their impact on habitats
for other species have been magnified.
• 2. In turn, this has often reduced the population size of the affected species
and resulted in habitat destruction and, in some cases, the extinction of
species.
• Many adaptations of organisms are related to obtaining and using
energy and matter in a particular environment.
4.B.1: Interactions between molecules affect their
structure and function.
• Change in the structure of a molecular system may result in a change of the
function of the system.
• The shape of enzymes, active sites and interaction with specific molecules are
essential for basic functioning of the enzyme.
Evidence of your learning is a demonstrated understanding of each of the
following:
• 1. For an enzyme-mediated chemical reaction to occur, the substrate must be
complementary to the surface properties (shape and charge) of the active site. In other
words, the substrate must fit into the enzyme’s active site.
• 2. Cofactors and coenzymes affect enzyme function; this interaction relates to a structural
change that alters the activity rate of the enzyme. The enzyme may only become active
when all the appropriate cofactors or coenzymes are present and bind to the appropriate
sites on the enzyme.
✘ No specific cofactors or coenzymes are within the scope of the course and the AP
Exam.
• Other molecules and the environment in which the enzyme acts can
enhance or inhibit enzyme activity. Molecules can bind reversibly or
irreversibly to the active or allosteric sites, changing the activity of the
enzyme.
• The change in function of an enzyme can be interpreted from data
regarding the concentrations of product or substrate as a function of
time. These representations demonstrate the relationship between
an enzyme’s activity, the disappearance of substrate, and/or presence
of a competitive inhibitor.
4.B.2: Cooperative interactions within organisms
promote efficiency in the use of energy and matter.
• Organisms have areas or compartments that perform a subset of functions
related to energy and matter, and these parts contribute to the whole.
Evidence of your learning is a demonstrated understanding of each of the
following:
• 1. At the cellular level, the plasma membrane, cytoplasm and, for eukaryotes, the
organelles contribute to the overall specialization and functioning of the cell.
• 2. Within multicellular organisms, specialization of organs contributes to the overall
functioning of the organism.
To foster your understanding of this concept, instructors can choose an
illustrative example such as:
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• Exchange of gases
• Circulation of fluids
• Digestion of food
• Excretion of wastes
• Interactions among cells of a population of unicellular organisms can
be similar to those of multicellular organisms, and these interactions
lead to increased efficiency and utilization of energy and matter.
To foster student understanding of this concept, instructors can choose
an illustrative example such as:
• • Bacterial community in the rumen of animals
• • Bacterial community in and around deep sea vents
4.B.3: Interactions between & within populations
influence patterns of species distribution & abundance.
• Interactions between populations affect the distributions and abundance
of populations.
Evidence of your learning is a demonstrated understanding of each of the
following:
• 1. Competition, parasitism, predation, mutualism and commensalism can affect
population dynamics.
• 2. Relationships among interacting populations can be characterized by positive and
negative effects, and can be modeled mathematically (predator/prey,
epidemiological models, invasive species).
• 3. Many complex symbiotic relationships exist in an ecosystem, and feedback control
systems play a role in the functioning of these ecosystems.
✘ Specific symbiotic interactions are beyond the scope of the course and the
AP Exam.
• A population of organisms has properties that are different from
those of the between individuals contributes to these different
properties.
• Species-specific and environmental catastrophes, geological events,
the sudden influx/depletion of abiotic resources or increased human
activities affect species distribution and abundance.
To foster your understanding of this concept, you can choose an
illustrative example such as:
• • Loss of keystone species
• • Kudzu
• • Dutch elm disease
4.B.4: Distribution of local and global ecosystems
changes over time.
• Human impact accelerates change at local and global levels.
To foster your understanding of this concept, you can choose an illustrative example such
as:
• • Logging, slash and burn agriculture, urbanization, monocropping, infrastructure development
(dams, transmission lines, roads), and global climate change threaten ecosystems and life on
Earth.
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• An introduced species can exploit a new niche free of predators or competitors,
thus exploiting new resources.
• Introduction of new diseases can devastate native species.
Illustrative examples include:
• Dutch elm disease
• Potato blight
• Small pox [historic example for Native Americans]
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