chapter  2
20 Pages

The Biology of a Living Organism

Understanding the intricate chemistry by which life survives, propagates, responds and communicates is the overarching goal of molecular biology-a field which relies increasingly on automated technologies for performing biological assays and computers for analyzing the results. While the complexity and diversity of life on earth is a source of neverending awe, at the molecular level there are many commonalities between different forms of life. In this chapter, we briefly review some essential concepts in cellular and molecular biology, in order to provide the necessary background and motivation for the bioinformatics problems discussed throughout the book. First, we discuss cells and organelles. Then we consider DNA, the carrier of genes, and protein. Biochemical networks are the topic of the following two sections, focussing in particular on cell metabolism and the control of proliferation. For more details on these topics, we refer the reader to any modern textbook on molecular and cellular biology, such as Alberts et al. [1]. We conclude the chapter with a discussion of some classical laboratory techniques of molecular biological as well as the new, automated techniques that create an ever-growing need for bioinformatics and machine learning.