A. Malcolm Campbell

A. Malcolm Campbell teaches biology at Davidson College, NC. He received national and international education awards: Genetics Society of America (2013); American Association for the Advancement of Science (2012); and American Society for Cell Biology (2006). He was the founding co-editor in chief of CBE Life Sciences Education; founding director of Genome Consortium for Active Teaching (GCAT); and member of the American Society for Cell Biology governing council (2012–2014).

Cellular Consequences of Evolution

Cellular Consequences of Evolution
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03/24/2016

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher Paradise

Once the first cell arose on Earth, how did genetic diversity arise if DNA replication and cell division generate exact copies? The answer is that neither process is perfect and that changes do occur at each step. Some changes are small and subtle while others are large and dramatic. As DNA mutates, evolution of a population takes place. But when can someone determine if a single species has changed enough to be considered two separate species? How is a species defined and is this definition useful in the real world?

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Cellular Structure and Function

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03/22/2016

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher Paradise

All organisms are composed of cells, but what is the definition of a cell? Can size, shape or function be used to distinguish cells from non-living biological systems such as a virus? Whatever the definition of a cell is, it can probably be contradicted by cells with unusual characteristics. For example, there are cells as long as a giraffe’s neck while others are smaller than a mitochondrion. Sometimes it is hard to know the difference between an animal and a plant cell. Despite their diversity of shapes and sizes, cells are small—most of the time.

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Cellular Respiration

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03/24/2016

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher Paradise

What happens to a meal after it is eaten? Food consists primarily of lipids, proteins and carbohydrates (sugars). How do cells in the body process food once it is eaten and turned it into a form of energy that other cells can use? This book examines some of the classic experimental data that revealed how cells break down food to extract the energy. Metabolism of food is regulated so that energy extraction increases when needed and slows down when not needed. This type of self-regulation is all part of the complex web of enzymes that convert food into energy.

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Using DNA Information to Make Proteins

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03/28/2016

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher Paradise

Many people were taught that DNA is the “blueprint of the cell,” but what does that really mean? If taken literally, it would reveal a static image of what the cell looks like, but that would be incorrect. DNA codes the necessary information to produce a living being but the DNA itself is insufficient to bring a cell to life. DNA must be transcribed into segments of RNA and the RNA must generate proteins from unassembled amino acids. The conversion of DNA information into functional proteins is often referred to as central dogma, which reflects its critical role in life.

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Behavior and Information Exchange

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03/04/2016

Christopher J. Paradise and A. Malcolm Campbell

Animal behavior includes the exchange of non-heritable information between individuals of the same species. Animals exchange information for a variety of reasons, including mating, defense, and cooperation, and all of these situations will be discussed. This book will describe the functions of communication and information transfer between organisms and explain how animals communicate and find each other through use of different signals. The costs and benefits of using various signals will be evaluated, as will the costs and benefits of living in groups.

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Ecological Dynamics

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03/24/2016

Christopher Paradise, A. Malcolm Campbell

Population growth, dynamics, and blooms of bacterial, unicellular eukaryotes, and toxic algae are described in this book. Microbes are used to illustrate both exponential and logistic population growth. Microbes are also used to illustrate dynamics in other aspects of ecological systems, including nutrient cycling. The movement of nitrogen in ecological systems is largely affected by microbes, some of which have symbiotic relationships with legumes.

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Evolution of Eukaryotes

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03/24/2016

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher Paradise

Many people have a vague sense that the hypothesized origin of life, in the form of bacteria, sounds plausible. However, few people can fathom how the first eukaryotic cell, complete with nucleus, mitochondria and maybe chloroplast, came into being. This book presents the evidence that reveals the origins of all three DNA-containing organelles. In addition, this book will illustrate how DNA, a molecule that is 2 meters (6 feet) long, can fit into all cells’ nuclei that are only about 2 microns (0.000002 meters) in diameter.

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The Source of Genetic Information

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03/24/2016

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher Paradise

Everyone who has taken any biology class knows that DNA is the heritable material. However, very few people know the evidence that led to this conclusion. Science is a discipline based on evidence not acceptance based on faith in a teacher or other authority. This book presents the historical and scientific context to understand how we know DNA is the heritable material. Furthermore, how the structure of DNA reveals its function will be discussed. The famous double helix shape foretold how it would be replicated.

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Neurons and Muscles

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03/24/2016

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher Paradise

Whenever a dancer or an athlete performs amazing feats, it is the consequence of two very interesting cell types: neurons and muscles. When the two of these cell types work together, animals can move in complex ways with surprising control. Not only do they work together to produce movement, they have many traits in common. They both convert chemical signals into electrical information, and then back into chemical information again. This book will examine how neurons process information and communicate to adjacent cells.

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Evolution and Origin of Cells

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03/24/2016

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher Paradise

It is easy to understand how cells are produced from preexisting cells. And it is possible to imagine how space dust condensed to form inanimate planets. But what stumps most people is how inanimate matter suddenly formed the first living cell. This problem has vexed scientists and philosophers over the millennia, but recent research has cracked open this black box that is the origin of life. After formally defining evolution, this book presents the modern classic experiments that show how abiotic molecules can be formed from inorganic starting materials.

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Reproduction and Cell Division

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03/24/2016

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher Paradise

Why do some children look more like one parent than another? How can two parents with dark hair have a child with red hair? How can two dark-skinned parents have a baby that has light skin? Everyone has wondered these questions, but in order to understand such unexpected outcomes, an understanding of what Gregor Mendel discovered—the rules of genetics—is necessary. This book reproduces Mendel’s original data that Mendel used to discover how traits are passed from one generation to the next.

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Molecular Structure and Function

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03/24/2016

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher Paradise

One of the overarching themes in nature is that form meets function, meaning that the shape of an object determines how well the object can perform its function. This book begins with some basics about specificity of shapes and the four increasing levels of protein structure. Most of this book examines how epinephrine (adrenaline) can cause the liver to release glucose when a person experiences a fight or flight response. Whenever someone gets scared, all of their cells are bathed in epinephrine.

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Animal Physiology

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03/24/2016

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher Paradise

This book examines four examples of animal physiology that illustrate emergent properties in whole organisms. The first example shows how mammals coordinate the activity of all their cells using a daily rhythm. The second case explains an apparent contradiction that happens every time a woman gets pregnant and delivers a healthy baby—how the immune system tolerates a foreign tissue such as the fetus. The next case study in this book shows how bodies regulate the amount of fat using a complex interaction of proteins that function as a lipostat, a self-regulating fat maintenance system.

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Cell Networks

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03/24/2016

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher Paradise

It is common for most people to mistakenly think that humans are the only species that can coordinate their behavior and build structures that protect them from the environment. Students of nature will think of birds building nests, but very few people know that bacteria are able to communicate and restructure their environment in complex ways that improve their ability to survive. This book presents experimental evidence of quorum sensing, biofilm formation, self-assembly of microbes into visible and mobile creatures.

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Molecular Switches

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03/24/2016

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher Paradise

This book introduces the concept of emergent properties, which are unexpected traits found only when two or more biological components interact. Experimental evidence of several emergent properties explains how hemoglobin can act like a high affinity oxygen carrier some times and then switch to a low affinity carrier exactly when and where it should. The second example presents how one particular virus determines whether it should stay latent within its host or whether it should kill its host and spread its progeny into the environment.

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Photosynthesis

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04/13/2017

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher J. Paradise

Perhaps the most important chemical reactions on the planet take place inside a plant’s chloroplasts. In this tiny green organelle, plants have the capacity to capture the energy in light and use that energy to convert CO2 gas into building blocks used to produce all four categories of biological molecules—lipids, carbohydrates, proteins and nucleic acids. Animals could not survive if plants did not exist. Not only do they provide us with oxygen to breathe, they also generate the starting materials for everything we eat.

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Plant Physiology

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03/24/2016

A. Malcolm Campbell, Christopher Paradise

This book examines three ways plants respond to their changing environment. The first example can be found in all plants. Despite the extreme changes in weather, plants have to stay where they are and respond to whatever nature produces. Plants have the capacity to respond quickly and yet they can evolve in a single generation. The second example addresses how an individual leaf has to respond rapidly and repeatedly to maintain the proper balance of carbon dioxide (CO2) and water so that it can photosynthesize but not dry out.

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Cells in Tissues

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03/04/2016

Christopher Paradise, A. Malcolm Campbell

Two systems illustrate how individual cells of an organ system function, communicate, and coordinate activities. The digestive system breaks down and absorbs nutrients, and some specialized cells break down and absorb nutrients. The case of parietal cells in the stomach and epithelial cells in the small intestine are used to describe how cells function as a unit within organ systems, coordinating activities and communicating with one another.

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Ecological Dynamics

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03/24/2016

Christopher Paradise, A. Malcolm Campbell

Population growth, dynamics, and blooms of bacterial, unicellular eukaryotes, and toxic algae are described in this book. Microbes are used to illustrate both exponential and logistic population growth. Microbes are also used to illustrate dynamics in other aspects of ecological systems, including nutrient cycling. The movement of nitrogen in ecological systems is largely affected by microbes, some of which have symbiotic relationships with legumes.

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Evolution of Interactions in Communities

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03/04/2016

Christopher J. Paradise and A. Malcolm Campbell

Pairwise and diffuse coevolution are defined, with examples that include mutualisms and predator-prey interactions. In any example of coevolution, the costs and benefits to both species involved in the interaction must be assessed in order to understand evolution of the interaction. Models to explain coral bleaching are examined in the context of a coevolutionary mutualism, as are the implications for the possible extinction of coral reefs. Data are examined in order to determine which model is best supported.

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Evolutionary History

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03/04/2016

Christopher J. Paradise and A. Malcolm Campbell

This book describes how evolutionary history is studied using several well-known examples and also using evolutionary trees. Evolutionary trees are analyzed and used to explain adaptive radiations of orchids and the diversification of bats over geologic time. Evolutionary trees and genetic evidence is used to infer when and from what ancestors terrestrial plants evolved and invaded land. Specific adaptations of early land plants led to the evolution of terrestrial plants and their success on land.

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Effects of Genetic and Pathogenic Diseases on Cells

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03/04/2016

Christopher J. Paradise and A. Malcolm Campbell

Several genetic and pathogenic diseases are described to illustrate how diseases can and do disrupt normal molecular and cellular functions, and how those disruptions affect entire organisms. In the case of genetic diseases, how they arise and are maintained in populations is discussed. In the case of pathogenic and parasitic organisms, understanding their complex life cycles and their modes of transmission is critical to understanding their effects on individuals and how disease outbreaks occur in ecological systems.

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Information in the Environment

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03/04/2016

Christopher J. Paradise and A. Malcolm Campbell

This book identifies the commonalities between communication within a species and communication between species. Behavior and exchange of non-heritable information occurs between individuals of different species, in animals and plants, in order to exploit other species and compete for resources. Several examples of adaptations of one species to exploit the information passed between individuals of another species are given. This book describes how animals make decisions while gathering information and resources, selecting habitat, and interacting with potential competitors.

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Mechanisms of Evolution

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03/04/2016

Christopher J. Paradise and A. Malcolm Campbell

Three of the four major mechanisms of evolution, natural selection, genetic drift, and gene flow are examined. There are 5 tenets of natural selection that influence individual organisms: Individuals within populations are variable, that variation is heritable, organisms differ in their ability to survive and reproduce, more individuals are produced in a generation than can survive, and survival & reproduction of those variable individuals are non-random. Organisms respond evolutionarily to changes in their environment and other selection pressures, including global climate change.

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Properties in and of Populations

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03/04/2016

Christopher J. Paradise and A. Malcolm Campbell

Properties of populations include age and spatial distribution, both of which emerge from actions and properties of individuals and can affect population dynamics, the changes in populations and metapopulations over time and space. The age structure of a population is described and analyzed to determine how it affects the growth of a population. The various aspects of spatial structure of populations, which also arise from characteristics and behaviors of individuals, are examined and used to develop the concept of a metapopulation.

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Variation and Population Genetics

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03/04/2016

Christopher J. Paradise and A. Malcolm Campbell

This book describes and analyzes genetic and environmental factors that cause variation in individuals and populations. Data will be used to evaluate the processes by which variation is generated in organisms and how variation affects natural selection. Genetic factors include mutation, independent assortment, crossing over, and recombination. Environmental factors include gradients and differences in abiotic conditions. Genotype frequencies can be used to determine allele frequencies and this information can be used to determine whether a population is evolving at a genetic locus.

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Ecological Homeostasis

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03/04/2016

Christopher J. Paradise and A. Malcolm Campbell

Individual organisms contribute to nutrient cycling in ecological systems, which is shown to be a mechanism of homeostasis at that level. The phosphorus and nitrogen cycles are used to illustrate effects of changes in populations or communities on the cycling of these nutrients. Major disturbances such as deforestation and global climate change disrupt nutrient cycles and ecological system homeostasis. Data are examined to determine effects of deforestation on nutrient cycling.

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Ecological Interactions

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03/04/2016

Christopher J. Paradise and A. Malcolm Campbell

Food webs, energy flow, indirect effects, and nutrient cycling are described as properties that emerge in ecological systems. Several of these properties are shown in this book to result from indirect effects and interactions between species and abiotic components of ecological systems. For instance, top predators affect organisms with which they do not directly interact, including plants and non-prey animals. In some other interactions, including competition, the nonliving components of ecological systems (the abiota) can alter the outcome of a biotic interaction.

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Emergent Properties of Individual Organisms

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03/04/2016

Christopher J. Paradise and A. Malcolm Campbell

This book begins by describing what an individual organism is, comparing preconceptions of the individual to non-standard ways of thinking about individuals. Variation in what individuals are is described, using giant fungi, clonal trees and honey bee hives as examples. Individuals are thus shown to be emergent properties. Other emergent properties of individuals are also described. Classic experiments that elucidated the source of emotions in humans and other mammals are described.

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Organismal Homeostasis

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03/04/2016

Christopher J. Paradise and A. Malcolm Campbell

Organisms maintain homeostasis in a variety of ways. In the first part of this book, mammals are shown to regulate their body temperatures through homeostatic mechanisms. The data from thermoregulation experiments that demonstrated the role of neurons in body temperature homeostasis are examined. The second part of this book discusses how organisms allocate the limited energy that is available to them for survival, growth, or reproduction. Excess energy in individuals can translate to growth of populations: if enough remains after survival and growth, it can be allocated to reproduction.

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Population Homeostasis

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03/04/2016

Christopher J. Paradise and A. Malcolm Campbell

This book will synthesize the concepts of selection against individuals in response to environmental change to illustrate how selection against individuals results in homeostasis at the population level. For instance, selection against the light phenotype of the peppered moth during the early part of the industrial revolution led to an increase of the dark phenotype, which was better camouflaged against the soot that accumulated on tree bark as a result of burning coal. Populations are shown to be regulated by feedback mechanisms, several of which are discussed here.

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