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Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms such as plants and animals, including their structure, function, growth, evolution, distribution(ecology), and taxonomy.

Microscope image showing cells of a simple plant Calypogeia fossa, a kind of liverwort. image: wikimedia

Onion cells at different stages of cell division. image: wikipedia

Modern biology is a vast and eclectic field, composed of many branches and subdisciplines. 

Despite the broad scope of biology, there are certain general and unifying concepts within it that govern all study and research, consolidating it into single, coherent field.

In general, biology recognises:

     the cell as the basic unit of life

     genes as the basic unit of heredity, and 

     ▪ evolution by natural selection as the mechanism that propels the synthesis and creation of new species

     ▪ all organisms survive by consuming and transforming energy and by regulating their internal environment to maintain a stable and vital condition.

A typical eukaryotic animal cell. image: wikipedia

Sub disciplines (areas of studies) of biology are defined by the scale at which organisms are investigated, the kinds of organisms studied, their behaviours, and the methods used to study them: 

     biochemistry examines the rudimentary chemistry of life;

     molecular biology studies the complex interactions among biological molecules;

     cellular biology examines the basic building-block of all life, the cell; 

     botany studies the biology of plants;

     zoology studies the biology of animals

     physiology examines the physical and chemical functions of tissues, organs, and organ systems of an organism; 

     ▪ evolutionary biology examines the processes that produced the diversity of life; and 

     ecology examines how organisms interact in their environment.

     taxonomy  is about defining and naming groups of biological organisms on the basis of shared characteristics.

source: adapted from


The term 'life sciences' can be considered in even broader contexts to include implications such as ethics, improvements in life from a social perspective or medicine.