Essential Cell Biology Fifth Edition
Nobel Prize–winning physicist Richard Feynman once noted that nature has a far, far better imagination than our own. Few things in the universe illustrate this observation better than the cell. A tiny sac of molecules capable of self-replication, this marvelous structure constitutes the fun damental building block of life. We are made of cells. Cells provide all the nutrients we consume. And the continuous activity of cells makes our planet habitable. To understand ourselves—and the world of which we are a part—we need to know something of the life of cells. Armed with such knowledge, we—as citizens and stewards of the global community—will be better equipped to make well-informed decisions about increasingly sophisticated issues, from climate change and food security to biomedical technologies and emerging epidemics.
In Essential Cell Biology we introduce readers to the fundamentals of cell biology. The Fifth Edition introduces powerful new techniques that allow us to examine cells and their components with unprecedented precision—such as super-resolution fluorescence microsocopy and cryoelectron microscopy—as well as the latest methods for DNA sequencing and gene editing. We discuss new thinking about how cells organize and encourage the chemical reactions that make life possible, and we review recent insights into human origins and genetics. With each edition of Essential Cell Biology, its authors re-experience the joy of learning something new and surprising about cells. We are also reminded of how much we still don’t know. Many of the most fascinating questions in cell biology remain unanswered. How did cells arise on the early Earth, multiplying and diversifying through billions of years of evolution to fill every possible niche—from steaming vents on the ocean floor to frozen mountaintops—and, in doing so, transform our planet’s entire environment? How is it possible for billions of cells to seamlessly cooperate and form large, multicellular organisms like ourselves? These are among the many challenges that remain for the next generation of cell biologists, some of whom will begin a wonderful, lifelong journey with this textbook.
Readers interested in learning how scientific inquisitiveness can fuel break throughs in our understanding of cell biology will enjoy the stories of discovery presented in each chapter’s “How We Know” feature. Packed with experimental data and design, these narratives illustrate how biologists tackle important questions and how experimental results shape future ideas. In this edition, a new “How We Know” recounts the discoveries that first revealed how cells transform the energy locked in food molecules into the forms used to power the metabolic reactions on which life depends.
As in previous editions, the questions in the margins and at the end of each chapter not only test comprehension but also encourage careful
thought and the application of newly acquired information to a broader biological context. Some of these questions have more than one valid answer and others invite speculation. Answers to all of the questions are included at the back of the book, and many provide additional information or an alternative perspective on material presented in the main text.
More than 160 video clips, animations, atomic structures, and highresolution micrographs complement the book and are available online. The movies are correlated with each chapter and callouts are highlighted in color. This supplemental material, created to clarify complex and critical concepts, highlights the intrinsic beauty of living cells. For those who wish to probe even more deeply, Molecular Biology of
the Cell, now in its sixth edition, offers a detailed account of the life of the cell. In addition, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Sixth Edition: A Problems Approach, by John Wilson and Tim Hunt, provides a gold mine of thought-provoking questions at all levels of difficulty. We have drawn upon this tour-de-force of experimental reasoning for some of the questions in Essential Cell Biology, and we are very grateful to its authors.
Every chapter of Essential Cell Biology is the product of a communal effort: both text and figures were revised and refined as drafts circulated from one author to another—many times over and back again! The numerous other individuals who have helped bring this project to fruition are credited in the Acknowledgments that follow. Despite our best efforts, it is inevitable that errors will have crept into the book, and we encourage eagle-eyed readers who find mistakes to let us know, so that we can correct them in the next printing.
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