Basic Cell and Molecular Biology: What We Know & How We Found Out - 3e
Gerald Bergtrom, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Copyright Year: 2018
ISBN 13: 9780996150248
Conditions of Use
This is a very nice and comprehensive textbook that covers most of the fundamental ideas in cell and molecular biology. The textbook also covers some new topics, albeit the coverage is somewhat limited. It provides a hyperlinked table of contents,... read more
This is a very nice and comprehensive textbook that covers most of the fundamental ideas in cell and molecular biology. The textbook also covers some new topics, albeit the coverage is somewhat limited. It provides a hyperlinked table of contents, which is handy when you use pdf. However, it lacks page numbers, which might be problematic when you choose to use the print-out version of this textbook. No glossary is provided. There is a list of keywords at the end of each chapter, but no definition/explanation is given to the listed words. This is probably not a big issue when you use the pdf version, as you can simply “command+F” for the word that you want to learn. Appendices contain various useful links, both to the contents of the textbook and to some online resources.
The contents are accurate throughout the textbook. However, some links to outside sources, especially those that are related to current topics, do not work anymore.
This textbook is very solid on covering the established core ideas in cell and molecular biology, and is arranged in a way that some updates can be added when needed in the future. Some chapters cover relatively new topics. However, the sections that cover new topics tend to be just bullet points with no detailed explanation is given. Instead, most of these new sections rely on external links, some of which do not work anymore. An example is related to CRISPR-Cas9-based genome editing: “The application of gene editing with CRISPR/Cas systems has already facilitated studies of gene function in vitro, in cells and in whole organisms. Click CRISPR Applications from NEB for a description of CRISPR/Cas applications already on the market!” This section also contains a link to Wikipedia (not the most reliable source) and a link that does not work anymore. I’m also surprised that there is no chapter that covers next-generation sequencing techniques or other genomics related techniques (other than a short section mentioning –omics). This is a major deficiency as a textbook for molecular biology.
This textbook is written very clearly, and most technical terms are very well-explained.
The organization is very consistent throughout the textbook, with each chapter starting with an outline, learning objectives, historical background, then details. Also, there is a link to a short YouTube video at the end of each section, providing a quick take-home of each section.
Each chapter is standalone, allowing readers to start from any chapter. But together they provide a larger framework.
The textbook flows very well, starting from the intro (chapter 1), biochemical aspects (chapter 2-7), basic molecular biology (chapter 8-15), cellular biology (chapter 16-20).
I did not have any problem navigating through the textbook. The images are not of high quality, but they are quite sufficient to explain the contents.
I did not notice any grammar issues.
This category is not too relevant when reviewing this textbook. However, I found discussions on some controversial issues, such as GMO, rather shallow and slightly insensitive.
I really liked that this textbook focus not only on “What We Know” but also on “How We Found Out”. Every chapter begins with a historical background, which allows students to connect more to the scientists themselves, their struggles, and their excitements. I think this is a great textbook for introductory-level courses that cover the core concepts in the field.
There is a hyperlinked table of contents with fairly descriptive chapter titles. However, the text lacks an index that could be used to find specific terms and concepts by searching directly. There is a list of relevant terms at the end of each... read more
There is a hyperlinked table of contents with fairly descriptive chapter titles. However, the text lacks an index that could be used to find specific terms and concepts by searching directly. There is a list of relevant terms at the end of each chapter; however this is not a glossary, as the terms are not defined.
The content is accurate and presented at a level that would be understandable to biology majors in an introductory course. However, there are links to outside sources (i.e., wikipedia) throughout. We tell our students that wikipedia is not a reliable source to use as a reference in their writing, and here it is frequently referenced throughout the text. The plasticity and editability of the wikipedia entries could jeopardize both the longevity and the accuracy of this text.
The content is on par with other textbooks on this topic in relation to relevance and longevity of topics. Similar to other texts, it does not describe cutting edge techniques like next generation sequencing. However, it does include relevant sections on CRISPR technology and epigenetics.
Most of the prose is clearly written, but the clarity is obscured occasionally when ideas could be more succinctly stated. For example, in describing the use of the scientific method, the author writes that the “observance of the method is not strict and is more often honored in the breach than by adherence to protocol!” (pg 2). Additionally, there are some terms which should be better defined, e.g., progenote. I had never seen this term used before, so I did some research. There is some controversy about whether the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) was in fact a progenote; it may be better to use a different term, or at least acknowledge the controversy.
The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework. Each chapter starts with an introduction, links to voice-over powerpoint presentations, and a list of learning objectives. Throughout the subsections of each chapter, there are challenge boxes which pose questions to the student to help them synthesize what they have just read.
The text is easily divisible into chapters that can be covered throughout the semester. The topics covered in each chapter can be used on its own. However, the author frequently refers to additional sources in the introductory material for a chapter. For example, in a description of the laws of thermodynamics (pg 57), he states that “for an excellent discussion of how basic thermodynamic principles apply to living things, see: Lehninger AL (1971) Bioenergetics: The Molecular Basis of Biological Energy Transformation. Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco).” While I agree that it is useful to have additional resources cited in the text, it would be difficult for a college student to quickly access many of the texts that he mentions - especially for a topic that is integral to the understanding of the chapter they are currently covering.
The information is presented logically from beginning to end, although each chapter can be presented individually.
Links to multiple figures are incorrect and figures are not cited correctly. For example, the hyperlink below the comic on page 1 links to a completely different comic on the azcentral.com website. Also, the link below the image of rod-shaped bacteria (pg 6) directs you to the following: http://static.hugedomains.com/images/logo_huge_domains.gif
The text contains no major grammatical errors. There are some spots where phrasing is awkward. For example, on pg 407 the author uses the word “size” as a verb when describing the function of molecular weight markers in gel electrophoresis.
I did not find any instances of cultural insensitivity in the text itself, but at least one of the links to an outside source was wholly inappropriate for a science textbook. On page 461, there is a link to an article on Huffington Post. The author uses this article to prompt a discussion about the evolution of artificial intelligence. However, most of the text of the article describes Stephen Hawking and Larry King musing on the mysteries of women and the number of Larry King’s marriages. Such issues could be avoided by linking to sources other than Huffington Post.
I am concerned as to whether the author has license to use many of the images that are in the text. For example, on page 243 the author uses a cover from a 2010 issue of Time magazine and includes the following citation: https://uclareproductivehealth.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/1101100118_4002.jpg. It is not clear whether the author has permission from the publishers of Time to use this image.
This text is thorough in the sense that it covers all pertinent topics taught in an introductory cell and molecular biology course. While some processes, such as prokaryotic transcriptional regulation and molecule techniques such as CRISPR/CAS,... read more
This text is thorough in the sense that it covers all pertinent topics taught in an introductory cell and molecular biology course. While some processes, such as prokaryotic transcriptional regulation and molecule techniques such as CRISPR/CAS, are covered in adequate detail, other mechanisms, including eukaryotic transcription, cellular transport, ATP synthesis, signal transduction, and cytoskeleton assembly, are summarized but lack details that are appropriate for a rigorous introductory course for majors. Additional information is provided through embedded links to videos and articles but if these are not viewed the student misses the information. Several of these links are to wikipedia which may not be the best source. Also, a more detailed review of chemical bonds and the molecular structure of proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates would ensure the student has the knowledge to understand the cellular processes. While these are topics the student should know from general biology, they often have misconceptions that need to be corrected. This is especially true for protein structure and understanding the allosteric regulation that is discussed throughout the text. A list of important terms is provided at the end of each chapter however, they are not defined in a glossary.
For the most part, the text is accurate and well written. The sections on energy and enzyme kinetics are particularly well written with excellent examples. However, there are a few errors. For instance, hyperpolarization is the state when the membrane potential of a cell becomes more negative and an action potential is inhibited but it is defined in the text as an increase in depolarization that leads to an action potential. There are a few other sections that need some clarification because they could lead to misconceptions. For example, antiporters and symporters are involved in the active transport of one molecule while an ion diffuses and this is only discussed in the context of facilitated diffusion. Also, the sentence, "On the other hand, membrane proteins are responsible for the selective permeability of membranes..." is misleading because it does not include the role of the lipids. In most sections, the figures are helpful, but without defined figure legends, a few are unclear. For example, the figure on page 110 that describes the electron transport chain is drawn to show NADH donating electrons to both complex I and III.
The text was recently updated so recent references are included. When needed, new references can be added easily so the longevity should be adequate. The text provides an excellent review of the history of molecular and cellular biology.
Although more details would improve the accuracy and clarity of the text as described previously, most sections are well written and free of undefined technical jargon.
Each chapter of the text follows the same format with an introduction, learning objectives, and key terms provided. The terminology is consistent and new terms are defined.
The text is divided into chapters that are each divided into smaller sections with subheadings. Each section is of a reasonable length and the information is logically divided.
The text begins with an overview of the cell theory and organelle function followed by a review of chemical bonds, macromolecules, and energy. The next section discusses principles of molecular biology with chapters on DNA replication, transcription, gene regulation, and molecular techniques. The last section describes the cell membrane, cellular transport, cell signaling, cell cycle, and evolution. There are a few instances where examples were given that required knowledge that is discussed in later chapters. For example, the tertiary structure of insulin is provided as an example of covalent bonds before protein folding is presented. The challenge questions are a great addition to the text but a few of them needed information from future chapters to completely answer the question. Also, answers to these questions provided at the end of the text would increase learning. Overall, the organization and flow of information is good.
There are no major problems with interface. A few of the figures are a bit distorted but not to the point of distracting from the reading.
There are a few typos and repeated sections of sentences but these are rare and do not really affect the overall reading.
This is not applicable to this text.
This text provides a basic summary of cellular and molecular processes that could be customized for an introductory cell or molecular course. There are a few errors that do need corrected and then additional details could be added to supply the desired rigor. The voice over powerpoints are helpful and make the text more accessible. Overall, this text provides a workable foundation for an open access text that can be customized to meet the demands of any introductory cell molecular course.
This text is a great introductory text that includes the basics of cell and molecular biology. It would be a very useful introductory text. Each chapter includes appropriate video presentations which adds to comprehension. There is a theme... read more
This text is a great introductory text that includes the basics of cell and molecular biology. It would be a very useful introductory text. Each chapter includes appropriate video presentations which adds to comprehension. There is a theme based on evolution utilized throughout each chapters with appropriate examples. Main points are reinforced with guided exercises for students. Although each chapter could stand alone it does seem that some reordering of chapters might help. There are some areas that are used but not explained until another chapter. But these are actually quite small.
Although the textbook us accurate it would be useful to include not only new terms but old venacular such as Krebs Cycle. Since depending on textbook students may run into both terms in later study.
No textbook can be completely relevant forever but I did not find any current information not supported by links which help date the time content was written. It would be easy to provide links to any current new information and future information.
Whereas the text is very readable and flows nicely, there is no index or glossary provided. Main terms are listed at the end of each chapter but no glossary for accuracy. Plus no index makes it harder for students to find concepts they may need to review in later chapters. I do like that learning objectives are clearly stated in each chapter.
Whereas each chapter can be taken alone they flow well from one to another. The ease of readability and lends to a consistent understanding. Balance of new concepts is appropriate with not too much new information introduced at one time.
It is quite easy to have each chapter as a stand alone section with the videos provided. Topics that need information previously presented are represented in a shorter version.
There is a logical progression that works well. The cellular biology is the last third of the book I would have liked to have seen some cellular presented earlier yet this format does work.
I had absolutely no issues navigating throughout. Since I have not used a Open Textbook I was extremely happy because my skills are somewhat lacking. If I can navigate I think most students will do so with ease.
I found no grammar issues that would detract from learning.
I found no instances of cultural insensitivity. Examples are very appropriate throughout.
The illustrations needed more parts labeled and more views so students don't get stuck only being able to recognize one illustration view.
This book covers the basics of cell and molecular biology and would be useful in an introductory class (100-200 level). I expected more molecular techniques discussed since there was an entire chapter on DNA techniques however model organisms and... read more
This book covers the basics of cell and molecular biology and would be useful in an introductory class (100-200 level). I expected more molecular techniques discussed since there was an entire chapter on DNA techniques however model organisms and protein techniques were not covered in much detail if any. The book supplies a list of key terms however there is no glossary or index. A major challenge in understanding the life sciences is grasping the jargon. Therefore, a glossary would be very helpful. The topics covered in this textbook are the topics expected to be covered in this subject area.
Most of the information provided especially in the text were accurate. I found that some of the illustrations were lacking detail or had additional information which made them less accurate based on the text. For example, when discussing the various subunits of a histone, the illustration for histones does not show these subunits. Also, when illustrating RNA polymerase, the tail is phosphorylated on the enzyme but there is no mention of that phosphorylation in the text how it is involved in the modification of mRNA.
The technology portion of the textbook may need updating as new molecular techniques are developed. In addition to the molecular techniques some of the studies used as examples could be updated. For example, there have been extensive studies in epigenetics done on mouse rearing and twin studies on schizophrenia which could be included in the text.
I found some of the phrasing and illustrations to be confusing as a reader One example is when discussing the primary structure of proteins “amino acids held together by peptide bonds created by dehydration synthesis during cellular protein synthesis”. I found this to be too much information when the reader had not learned about translation yet. In addition to that statement I found some of the concepts mentioned felt out of order like the author discusses protein modifications after primary structures but before discussing secondary, tertiary and quaternary structures. There was also a lack of specific examples or real world application to these concepts. Protein motifs were discussed vaguely rather than giving a specific example where you might see coil-coil motifs. Enzymes were discussed specifically from a biochemical perspectives and not a cellular perspective. There was no mention of how enzymes are found in various parts of the cells or how the cell is an extremely crowded place. In the DNA chapter the author mentions how size, shape and number of chromosomes is specific to species but does not give us an example or show us karyotypes from various species to clarify this statement. This could continue the misconception that more complex animals have a higher number of chromosomes. Some of the illustrations were also confusing, for example the illustration for primase and heterochromatin and euchromatin are mentioned without an illustration. Finally, I love the idea of the challenges however I found some of the challenges confusing or inappropriate like the challenge on pg 141 in which students are learning about chromosomes but getting asked specific about cell cycles. If the student is being taught in the order of the textbook, then they don’t have a grasp on the cell cycle yet.
This book is extremely consistent which I appreciate. Each chapter opens with a general overview and student learning objectives. Challenges are added intermittingly throughout the chapter and at the end of the chapter is a table of key terms. Each chapter all consists of voice over PowerPoints and external links for YouTube videos and websites to clarify the material.
There is modularity to each chapter and it is easy to break up readings. I recommend that header/footers of each page consist of chapter name and topic or subject matter for easy navigation in the PDF form.
1. . I did not like the way the topics were organized nor the flow of some topics. I would prefer for Cell and Molecular Biology to be presented as central dogma (DNA-mRNA-proteins) then get into gene regulation, cellular energetics, membrane structure and transport as well as additional chapters on cell signaling, before discussing cell cycle, cancer and motility. I also found the last chapter felt out of place and portions of that chapter could be incorporated into each chapter of the book giving an overall evolution theme. I also found various topics felt out of place within the chapter. For example, telomerase was thrown into the DNA replication chapter before discussing the natural shortening of chromosomes after each replication cycle. Also, regulation of transcription was discussed before the details of transcription and regulating of protein turn over may be best placed either in the translation chapter or protein chapter rather than the gene regulation chapter.
I found the textbook easy to navigate although a hyperlinked index or a breakdown of a table of contents would be extremely helpful. Some of the images were a bit lower quality but links to external sources worked and those sources were helpful.
No major grammatical errors identified
Cultural relevance not applicable
In general, I think this a good book for an introductory course in Cell and Molecular Biology. I recommend the authors consider challenges or application of topics that are more medically or environmentally relevant. For example, when discussing translation there is no mention of how some antibiotics work, and when discussing protein structure the authors could apply that to various diseases states such as sickle cell anemia.
This book is a very comprehensive text for understanding cell biology. Aimed at a biology majors in an introductory class, the book and associated lectures cover both eukaryotic and prokaryotic molecular nucleic acid and protein structures,... read more
This book is a very comprehensive text for understanding cell biology. Aimed at a biology majors in an introductory class, the book and associated lectures cover both eukaryotic and prokaryotic molecular nucleic acid and protein structures, genetics, metabolism, and even gets into some advanced subjects such as the CRISPR/Cas9 system.
Overall this textbook is fairly accurate. At times, some more complex subjects or subjects where scientists don't fully know all the answers (such as long non-coding RNAs), the author does describe things vaguely. There are a few errors, some probably arising from the extensive use of online sources. An example is the discussion and image of Alzheimer's disease, which doesn't quite look or work the way illustrated as amyloid beta is miscut and then aggregates. PrPc, shown, is a different protein that does aggregate when it misfolds and catalyzes others to misfold. A detailed re-check of these types of examples should be validated with an expert.
This textbook is up-to-date and appears, as it is in a modular form, relatively easy to update. Linkage to online content is always fraught with issues as content appears and disappears, thus some links do not work currently.
This is one serious problem for any complex subject. Excessive details and unfamiliar and occasional misleading nomenclature can alway make it hard to grasp. The online lectures work well to help with this. In many cases the author has done a fine job of explaining some of the unusual terminology that arose as scientists discovered the workings of the cells. However, at times, the author jumps around from subject to subject which can be hard to follow. This is reflected also in the overall structure/flow as well.
Very good consistency overall.
Each chapter is nicely arranged in modular form.
This is a serious issue with this book. The flow is too jumpy. The author should reorganize starting with the central dogma (Genes and DNA structure->RNA and Transcription->Protein & membranes) first, then proceed to organelles and cytoskeleton, metabolism, DNA repair and cell division. Finally, the author can then address repetitive DNAs, DNA technologies, and epigenetics. I would hope that students taking this class would already have taken a basic chemistry class first.
The bright blue links is a bit distracting. I'm not sure the purple challenge boxes help, they seemed distracting to me. The images are often of low resolution and poor quality font rendering when in a diagram or image. Italics fonts are hardest read when they degrade. Higher resolution images need to be used. I can see that Dr. Bergstrom has meticulously drawn many of these himself, and they are good, just did not translate well. Perhaps image compression in Adobe Acrobat was set too high.
I did not notice any serious errors in grammar.
Overall, a very good introductory book. I like the accompanying video lectures. Needs some editing, fact-rehecking, image reacquisition, and reorganization. Dependence on other's potentially transient on-line content is always an issue. But overall a good resource for students in the biological sciences.
The text provides coverage of a very broad range of topics, starting with biochemistry, moving into molecular biology, and ending with cell biology. Throughout the entire text evolution is a constant theme, providing context, rationale, and... read more
The text provides coverage of a very broad range of topics, starting with biochemistry, moving into molecular biology, and ending with cell biology. Throughout the entire text evolution is a constant theme, providing context, rationale, and examples of its importance in the biological sciences - a strong advantage and an important one in my opinion. Voice-over-PowerPoint links are made available through YouTube for every chapter, providing guided explanations of the author’s main points. There are one or two guided exercises for students to complete within the text, demonstrating how to use online resources such as those available for creating and visualizing 3D protein structures. The table of contents at the beginning is very useful in order to quickly identify which topics are of interest, and the links accurately move you to the relevant sections of the text. There is no glossary or index of content, however there is a collection of links to relevant YouTube videos referenced in the chapters at the end of the textbook. Each chapter ends with a list of important terms, but the definitions or the context of these terms is not provided. The text takes a biochemistry intensive approach to the topic, spending half the text (8 of 16 chapters) discussing basic chemistry, proteins structure, energetics, enzyme kinetics, and major metabolic processes. While some of these topics go into great detail, others do not. For example, the calculation of free energy is given significant coverage, as is aerobic respiration and the Krebs cycle. While photosynthesis is mentioned, as well as the several types of performed by plants (C3, C4, CAM), there is very little information on the Calvin cycle, one of the most important carbon fixation process on the planet in my opinion. The next five chapters (8-12), focus on molecular biology. Specifically, replication, transcription, translation, gene regulation, and recombinant DNA technology. Replication, transcription, and translation are all approached through presenting ‘famous’ experiments that were done to delineate the mechanisms of what we call the central dogma of molecular biology today. Coverage in this section varies as well. While replication, transcription, and translation are all adequately described, gene regulation focuses primarily on prokaryotic operons. Although mentioned, there is not a lot of information on transcriptional regulation through chromatin remodeling, transcription factor expression and regulation, or miRNA regulation. Processing of RNA is also a little brief in some areas, particularly in mRNA capping and circularization in eukaryotes (which is yet another way gene regulation may occur). The last four chapters of the text (13-16), focus on cellular biology with a focus on membranes, the cytoskeleton, and cell division. While the explanation and biochemistry of membrane structure, permeability, and transport is excellent, there is very little on intracellular trafficking of vesicles (though trafficking of proteins to particular compartments is discussed). There is no content relating to standard cell signaling pathways. Basic cell structure and function is addressed in the first chapter of the book.
The textbook is, in general, accurate. Although there may be some outdated terminology (archaebacteria as a primary identifier rather than archaea) or the absence of alternative names (Krebs cycle as the only reference with no mention of citric acid cycle or tri-carboxylic acid cycle), I did not see any serious errors in concepts or mechanisms being presented. The material presented is accurate and presented from an objective scientific viewpoint.
Content is up to date. The majority of the topics are tenets in biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, and not generally subject to significant changes. There are several examples given to keep material relevant and up-to-date, including a short description of the biochemical ramifications of the Atkins diet and similarly designed low-carbohydrate diets. Discussion of bacterial cell structure in chapter one includes a brief description of bacterial cytoskeletal elements and internal membrane structures (both of which are not present in more dated material). There are not a lot of cultural references or examples that would become dated quickly, and therefore all the content has a mostly timeless quality. The other side to this is that there is not a lot of ‘cutting edge’ information or modern case studies to describe or illustrate the material. There are many links to external material (YouTube videos by the author presenting topics, links to external figures, and links to Wikipedia entries) which may become out of date quickly depending on the whims of the institutions that host this content, however, as long as these are kept current they can easily be changed to reflect new URLs.
The book is written in a very clear and concise manner. It is written in a narrative form with a somewhat casual tone which makes it easy to read and easy to follow. Jargon and technical terms are listed at the end of each chapter as vocabulary lists. Learning objectives are outlined at the beginning of each chapter.
The text is internally consistent and uses the same organization and framework for each chapter.
The textbook excels in being able to move between different sections. Each chapter is a self-contained topic with subdivisions. In those cases where information is repeated (such as chapter one’s description of the cytoskeleton and the more detailed approach in chapter fifteen ‘Cytoskeleton & Cell Motility’) the information and figures are presented a second time, rather than forcing the reader or instructor to go back to the beginning and look again. This is quite helpful in being able to present or assign certain sections and still having them retain all the logical connections you would want them to without having to read the textbook in its entirety. While chapter 14, membrane function, may be a bit ambitious in the amount of material it covers and could be broken down into several topics, it does form a cohesive unit of knowledge on the fundamental biological processes that a membrane performs.
The textbooks chapters are organized in a very logical fashion, each one building on the other to more and more complicated concepts. There is a clear introduction to the text, though as with many science textbooks, there is no ending or wrap up. There is just an end to content. Internally, each chapter has a clear introduction and outline to major topics and sub-topics that are being addressed. It is easy to find information when searching for it.
I had no problems reading, navigating, opening, or in any other way interfering with my ability to read and interact with the textbook.
While there are a few grammatical errors (such as capitalization for “Thermus Aquaticus”) none are severe enough to take away from the flow or authority of the text. At worst, they are simple technical errors that do not obstruct the meaning or clarity of the information.
There is no cultural relevance in the sense this phrase is generally used. The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. Any examples that are made have no relation to cultural background as they are explanations of natural phenomenon independent of whether humans are here or not. That said, science is culturally relevant to everyone and the more science people do and are aware of – the better. This book does an excellent job of trying to bring science to people and engage them in material that is difficult but approachable.
This textbook is primarily a biochemistry textbook that has been modified to incorporate cell biology. While trying to cover so many different topics, it is unable to address either molecular biology or cell biology with the normal amount of detail that most textbooks in these fields would have. As a biochemistry text, this is an excellent way to introduce both molecular and cellular biology. As a textbook for a molecular biology or cellular biology course, it may not meet all the content areas desired. The title may be more accurately changed to reflect this focus.
Overall, without looking into details of every chapter, the book seems to cover properly the subject. The main index is ok. The book has a list of key words at the end of each chapter, but no glossary. The text introduces some techniques to... read more
Overall, without looking into details of every chapter, the book seems to cover properly the subject. The main index is ok. The book has a list of key words at the end of each chapter, but no glossary. The text introduces some techniques to demonstrate how discoveries in the field were made. The beginning of each chapter contains learning objectives, which is a good feature. The book is innovative by being an ‘i-text’, in which the author adds notes, links to videos and allows submission of short assignments. At the end of some chapters, it is possible to direct students to quizzes. It allows customization by different instructors which will probably expand the areas covered in the book.
Parts of the text have problems with wording, which brings some inaccuracy and confusion. For example, in ‘Proteins synthesized on the ribosomes of the rough endoplasmic reticulum and the outer nuclear envelope membrane will enter the interior space or lumen, or become part of the RER membrane itself.’ (page 14), I find some issues: 1-) Saying ‘protein synthesis ON ribosomes’ might give students the inaccurate idea that proteins are synthesized ‘on top’ of ribosomes, 2-) saying that proteins can ‘become part of the RER membrane itself’ also might give the wrong idea that the proteins change properties to become membrane. Saying that proteins are inserted into the membrane is more accurate. It is not clear what ‘status of genes’ page 16 refers to. Also, in ‘the nuclear envelope and nucleus disappear, eventually reappearing in the new daughter cells.’ (page 16), the sentence gives the wrong idea that these cellular structures just dissipate. Instead, it would be better to introduce the concept of assembly and disassembly of the nuclear envelope, which are highly coordinated events. As an additional note, despite the fact that the text emphasizes publication as one important aspect of the scientific method, the book does not have any links or references to scientific articles. Instead, it has quotes from Wikipedia, which sometimes might have problems with quality of information.
The book probably will have good longevity. In any case, due to its license and the way the book is designed, it should be easy to make modifications and customize content to add updated information.
The text is not very clear mostly due to some disorganization and long sentences/paragraphs. It is hard to pinpoint the take-home message of each paragraph. Examples and terms sometimes read like a list. I think that students could have trouble distinguishing what is important and what is not so important to know.
The text seems to be consistent.
Poor modularity. The reader will probably be lost with so many subtitles and with big paragraphs densely packed with words. The text is redundant at times and the sentences tend to be too long.
The text is disorganized at times. For example: under ‘bacterial reproduction’ in chapter 1, it mentions also eukaryotic cell division. In ‘Internal membranes and the Endomembrane System’, it introduces endocytosis, which is an important concept, only at the very end after several examples. These examples could probably come after the definition or in a side note. Cellular structures seems to be presented as if they were a list. I can envision students potentially having trouble focusing on the main points and trying to memorize each term without a real understanding or connection to function.
Unlike most of the other books from the Open Textbook Library, the access to the full version of this textbook is not straightforward. There are three versions: basic, annotated (with author’s notes) and complete (with author’s notes plus assignments). The download of complete version requires filling out a form to be granted access. In fact, I never received a notification to allow the download of the complete version. Therefore, this review is mostly based on the sample chapter (chapter 1), which seems to be the complete version of just one chapter. Most pictures in this textbook have low resolution, look fuzzy and are poorly labeled. Just a couple of examples: the left panel of the figure in page 11 is ineligible and it is not clear where the ‘arrows’ in the upper figure in page 13 are pointing to. Legends are embedded in the text instead of next to the figure. Therefore, it is difficult for the reader to pinpoint details or sometimes even the main purpose of a figure without going back to reread the text and search for the information. It will likely be more difficult to refer to figures in class, assignments or homework because there are no figure numbers.
The text has some grammatical mistakes. For example, in ‘Together with biochemical and molecular biological studies continues to reveal how different cell components work with each other (see cell fractionation, below).’ (page 25), the sentence is missing the subject.
I did not find cultural examples to be analyzed.
I envision that the need of supplying personal information in order to get the complete version of the textbook will hinder access at some level. Overall, the book has nice ideas regarding interactivity, with links to videos, quizzes, notes with questions and mini-assignments. It is also customizable, which is great. On the other side, if I were to use it for a class, it would require a lot of work to adapt it to my liking because the text is densely packed, difficult to read, somewhat disorganized and the quality of the figures is very poor.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Cell Tour, Life’s Properties and Evolution, Studying Cells
- Chapter 2: Basic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry
- Chapter 3: Details of Protein Structure
- Chapter 4: Bioenergetics
- Chapter 5: Enzyme Catalysis and Kinetics
- Chapter 6: Glycolysis, the Krebs Cycle and the Atkins Diet
- Chapter 7: Electron Transport, Oxidative Phosphorylation and Photosynthesis
- Chapter 8: DNA Structure, Chromosomes and Chromatin
- Chapter 9: Details of DNA Replication & DNA Repair
- Chapter 10: Transcription and RNA Processing
- Chapter 11: The Genetic Code and Translation
- Chapter 12: Regulation of Transcription and Epigenetic Inheritance
- Chapter 13: Post-Transcriptional Regulation of Gene Expression
- Chapter 14: Repetitive DNA, A Eukaryotic Genomic Phenomenon
- Chapter 15: DNA Technologies
- Chapter 16: Membrane Structure
- Chapter 17: Membrane Function
- Chapter 18: The Cytoskeleton and Cell Motility
- Chapter 19: Cell Division and the Cell Cycle
- Chapter 20: The Origins of Life
About the Book
A grasp of the logic and practice of science is essential to understand the rest of the world around us. To that end, the CMB3e iText (like earlier editions) remains focused on experimental support for what we know about cell and molecular biology, and on showing students the relationship of cell structure and function. Rather than trying to be a comprehensive reference book, CMB3e selectively details investigative questions, methods and experiments that lead to our understanding of cell biology. This focus is nowhere more obvious than in the chapter learning objectives and in external links to supplementary material. The Basic CMB3e version of the iText includes links to external web-sources as well as the author’s short, just-in-time YouTube VOPs (with edited, optional closed captions), all embedded in or near relevant text. Each video is identified with a descriptive title and video play and QR bar codes.
The Learning objectives align with content and ask students to use new knowledge to make connections and deepen their understanding of concept and experiment. All external links are intended to expand or explain textual content and concepts and to engage student curiosity. Links to full VOP lectures are now at the back of the book. include optional edited closed captions.
All images in the iText are by the author or are from public domain or Creative Commons (CC) licensed sources. For all externally sourced images, CC licenses are indicated with the image. Beyond the Basic CMB3e, the freely available Annotated CMB3e contains interactive links and formative assessments in the form of Challenge boxes. A CMB3e Sample Chapter and CMB3e iText for Instructors model additional interactive features, including short 25 Words or Less writing assignments that can be incorporated into almost any course management system, and all of which the author assigned as homework in his flipped, blended course. These assessments aim to reinforce writing as well as critical thinking skills. The CMB3e Sample Chapter is freely available for download; the CMB3e for Instructors version of the iText is available on request.
My goal in writing this iText is to make the content engaging, free and comparable in accuracy and currency to commercial textbooks. I encourage instructors to use the interactive features of the iText (critical thought questions, YouTube videos, etc.) to challenge their students.
With all of these enhancements, I encourage students to think about
• how good and great experiments were inspired and designed,
• how alternative experimental results were predicted,
• how data was interpreted, and finally,
• investigators (and we!) arrive at the most interesting “next questions”.
The online iText is the most efficient way to access links and complete online assignments. Nevertheless, you can download, read, study, and access many links with a smart phone or tablet. And you can add your own annotations digitally, or write in the margins of a printout the old-fashioned way! Your instructor may provide additional instructions for using your iText.
About the Contributors
Gerald Bergtrom is a Professor (Emeritus) of Biological Sciences and a learning technology consultant in the Learning Technology Center (LTC) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). His research interests are in the field of molecular biology and evolution as well as in the area of learning technologies in the service of good pedagogy. He has taught required introductory courses and elective course for biology majors as well as advanced and graduate courses. With more than 33 years experience in instruction, he has frequently tested and incorporated pedagogically proven teaching technologies into his courses.