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Edexcel Biology B3: Biotechnology – Key Words

“You will be expected to be able to recall, explain, describe and use appropriately the
following words and phrases” – Edexcel Biology Extension B3 course specification

Key WordDescription
Amino AcidThe main components of protein. They are made up primarily from nitrogen and carbohydrates.
ArtemisininA drug used against malaria; is derived from the Qinghao plant, Artemisia annua.
BacteriaA member of a large group of unicellular microorganisms that have cell walls but lack organelles and an organized nucleus, including some that can cause disease
BiotechnologyThe exploitation of biological processes for industrial and other purposes.
BreedingThe activity of controlling the mating and production of offspring of animals.
CholesterolCholesterol is a molecule that is found in cells; it is a type of lipid which is a fat or fat-like molecule. It is a soft waxy substance.
ChymosinAn enzyme that clots milk; it is used in the manufacture of cheese.
Citric AcidA sharp-tasting crystalline acid present in the juice of lemons and other sour fruits.
EnzymeA substance produced by a living organism that acts as a catalyst to bring about a specific biochemical reaction
EsterAn organic compound made by replacing the hydrogen of an acid by an alkyl or other organic group. Many naturally occurring fats and essential oils are esters of fatty acids
EthicsA branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality — that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, justice, virtue, etc. In Biology, this could apply to how animals are treated during experiments.
FermentationThe chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat.
FiltrationThe action or process of filtering something
Gelling agentThickening agents, or thickeners, are substances which, when added to an aqueous mixture, increase its viscosity without substantially modifying its other properties, such as taste.
GeneA gene is a unit of heredity in a living organism. It is normally a stretch of DNA that codes for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. All living things depend on genes.
Genetic engineeringThe deliberate modification of the characteristics of an organism by manipulating its genetic material
Genetic modificationUsing modern biotechnology to alter the genetic material of cells or organisms in order to make them capable of making new substances or performing new functions.
GenomeThe entirety of an organism's hereditary information. It is encoded either in DNA or, for many types of virus, in RNA. The genome includes both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA.
GenomicsThe branch of molecular biology concerned with the structure, function, evolution, and mapping of genomes
Glutamic acidAn acidic amino acid that is a constituent of many proteins
HerbicideA substance, toxic to plants, that is used to destroy unwanted vegetation.
InsulinA hormone produced in the pancreas that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood.
InvertaseAn enzyme produced by yeast that catalyses the hydrolysis of sucrose, forming invert sugar
Lactic acidA colorless syrupy organic acid formed in sour milk and produced in the muscle tissues during strenuous exercis
LactoseA sugar present in milk. It is a disaccharide containing glucose and galactose units
MalariaAn intermittent and remittent fever caused by a protozoan parasite that invades the red blood cells.
MicroorganismA microscopic organism. e.g. a bacterium, virus, or fungus
ObesityThe condition of being grossly fat or overweight
OligosaccharideA carbohydrate whose molecules are composed of a relatively small number of monosaccharide units
Parkinson's diseaseA progressive disease of the nervous system marked by tremor, muscular rigidity, and slow, imprecise movement, chiefly affecting middle-aged and elderly people. It is associated with degeneration of the basal ganglia of the brain and a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine
PasteurisationHeat-treatment of a perishable food to destroy heat-sensitive vegetative cells followed by immediate cooling to limit growth of the surviving cells and germination of spores.
PrebioticsPromote growth of 'good bacteria' in the gut. Prebiotics are carbohydrates - a food supply for good bacteria. 'Bac bacteria' and humans don't have the right enzymes to digest prebiotics.
QuinineA bitter crystalline compound present in cinchona bark, used as a tonic and formerly as an antimalarial drug
ResistanceLack of sensitivity to a drug, insecticide, etc., e.g. as a result of continued exposure or genetic change
SalicinA bitter compound present in willow bark. It is a glucoside related to aspirin, and accounts for the ancient use of willow bark as a pain-relieving drug.
Stem cellsAn undifferentiated cell of a multicellular organism that is capable of giving rise to indefinitely more cells of the same type (No Hayflick Limit), and from which certain other kinds of cell arise by differentiation
TaxolA compound, originally obtained from the bark of the Pacific yew tree, that has been found to inhibit the growth of certain cancers
ToxinAn antigenic poison or venom of plant or animal origin, esp. one produced by or derived from microorganisms and causing disease when present at low concentration in the body
VectorAn organism, typically a biting insect or tick, that transmits a disease or parasite from one animal or plant to another.
YeastA microscopic fungus consisting of single oval cells that reproduce by budding, and are capable of converting sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.