In biology, a species is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined. While these definitions may seem adequate, when looked at more they represent problematic species concepts. For example, the boundaries between related species become unclear with hybridisation, in a species complex of hundreds of similar microspecies, in a ring species. Among organisms that reproduce only asexually, the concept of a reproductive species breaks down, each clone is a microspecies. All species are given a two-part name, a "binomial"; the first part of a binomial is the genus.
The second part is called the specific epithet. For example, Boa constrictor is one of four species of the genus Boa. None of these is satisfactory definitions, but scientists and conservationists need a species definition which allows them to work, regardless of the theoretical difficulties. If species were fixed and distinct from one another, there would be no problem, but evolutionary processes cause species to change continually, to grade into one another. Species were seen from the time of Aristotle until the 18th century as fixed kinds that could be arranged in a hierarchy, the great chain of being. In the 19th century, biologists grasped. Charles Darwin's 1859 book The Origin of Species explained how species could arise by natural selection; that understanding was extended in the 20th century through genetics and population ecology. Genetic variability arises from mutations and recombination, while organisms themselves are mobile, leading to geographical isolation and genetic drift with varying selection pressures.
Genes can sometimes be exchanged between species by horizontal gene transfer. Viruses are a special case, driven by a balance of mutation and selection, can be treated as quasispecies. Biologists and taxonomists have made many attempts to define species, beginning from morphology and moving towards genetics. Early taxonomists such as Linnaeus had no option but to describe what they saw: this was formalised as the typological or morphological species concept. Ernst Mayr emphasised reproductive isolation, but this, like other species concepts, is hard or impossible to test. Biologists have tried to refine Mayr's definition with the recognition and cohesion concepts, among others. Many of the concepts are quite similar or overlap, so they are not easy to count: the biologist R. L. Mayden recorded about 24 concepts, the philosopher of science John Wilkins counted 26. Wilkins further grouped the species concepts into seven basic kinds of concepts: agamospecies for asexual organisms biospecies for reproductively isolated sexual organisms ecospecies based on ecological niches evolutionary species based on lineage genetic species based on gene pool morphospecies based on form or phenotype and taxonomic species, a species as determined by a taxonomist.
A typological species is a group of organisms in which individuals conform to certain fixed properties, so that pre-literate people recognise the same taxon as do modern taxonomists. The clusters of variations or phenotypes within specimens would differentiate the species; this method was used as a "classical" method of determining species, such as with Linnaeus early in evolutionary theory. However, different phenotypes are not different species. Species named in this manner are called morphospecies. In the 1970s, Robert R. Sokal, Theodore J. Crovello and Peter Sneath proposed a variation on this, a phenetic species, defined as a set of organisms with a similar phenotype to each other, but a different phenotype from other sets of organisms, it differs from the morphological species concept in including a numerical measure of distance or similarity to cluster entities based on multivariate comparisons of a reasonably large number of phenotypic traits. A mate-recognition species is a group of sexually reproducing organisms that recognize one another as potential mates.
Expanding on this to allow for post-mating isolation, a cohesion species is the most inclusive population of individuals having the potential for phenotypic cohesion through intrinsic cohesion mechanisms. A further development of the recognition concept is provided by the biosemiotic concept of species. In microbiology, genes can move even between distantly related bacteria extending to the whole bacterial domain; as a rule of thumb, microbiologists have assumed that kinds of Bacteria or Archaea with 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequences more similar than 97% to each other need to be checked by DNA-DNA hybridisation to decide if they belong to the same species or not. This concept was narrowed in 2006 to a similarity of 98.7%. DNA-DNA hybri
A chromosome is a deoxyribonucleic acid molecule with part or all of the genetic material of an organism. Most eukaryotic chromosomes include packaging proteins which, aided by chaperone proteins, bind to and condense the DNA molecule to prevent it from becoming an unmanageable tangle. Chromosomes are visible under a light microscope only when the cell is undergoing the metaphase of cell division. Before this happens, every chromosome is copied once, the copy is joined to the original by a centromere, resulting either in an X-shaped structure if the centromere is located in the middle of the chromosome or a two-arm structure if the centromere is located near one of the ends; the original chromosome and the copy are now called sister chromatids. During metaphase the X-shape structure is called a metaphase chromosome. In this condensed form chromosomes are easiest to distinguish and study. In animal cells, chromosomes reach their highest compaction level in anaphase during chromosome segregation.
Chromosomal recombination during meiosis and subsequent sexual reproduction play a significant role in genetic diversity. If these structures are manipulated incorrectly, through processes known as chromosomal instability and translocation, the cell may undergo mitotic catastrophe; this will make the cell initiate apoptosis leading to its own death, but sometimes mutations in the cell hamper this process and thus cause progression of cancer. Some use the term chromosome in a wider sense, to refer to the individualized portions of chromatin in cells, either visible or not under light microscopy. Others use the concept in a narrower sense, to refer to the individualized portions of chromatin during cell division, visible under light microscopy due to high condensation; the word chromosome comes from the Greek χρῶμα and σῶμα, describing their strong staining by particular dyes. The term was coined by von Waldeyer-Hartz, referring to the term chromatin, introduced by Walther Flemming; some of the early karyological terms have become outdated.
For example and Chromosom, both ascribe color to a non-colored state. The German scientists Schleiden, Virchow and Bütschli were among the first scientists who recognized the structures now familiar as chromosomes. In a series of experiments beginning in the mid-1880s, Theodor Boveri gave the definitive demonstration that chromosomes are the vectors of heredity, it is the second of these principles, so original. Wilhelm Roux suggested. Boveri was able to confirm this hypothesis. Aided by the rediscovery at the start of the 1900s of Gregor Mendel's earlier work, Boveri was able to point out the connection between the rules of inheritance and the behaviour of the chromosomes. Boveri influenced two generations of American cytologists: Edmund Beecher Wilson, Nettie Stevens, Walter Sutton and Theophilus Painter were all influenced by Boveri. In his famous textbook The Cell in Development and Heredity, Wilson linked together the independent work of Boveri and Sutton by naming the chromosome theory of inheritance the Boveri–Sutton chromosome theory.
Ernst Mayr remarks that the theory was hotly contested by some famous geneticists: William Bateson, Wilhelm Johannsen, Richard Goldschmidt and T. H. Morgan, all of a rather dogmatic turn of mind. Complete proof came from chromosome maps in Morgan's own lab; the number of human chromosomes was published in 1923 by Theophilus Painter. By inspection through the microscope, he counted 24 pairs, his error was copied by others and it was not until 1956 that the true number, 46, was determined by Indonesia-born cytogeneticist Joe Hin Tjio. The prokaryotes – bacteria and archaea – have a single circular chromosome, but many variations exist; the chromosomes of most bacteria, which some authors prefer to call genophores, can range in size from only 130,000 base pairs in the endosymbiotic bacteria Candidatus Hodgkinia cicadicola and Candidatus Tremblaya princeps, to more than 14,000,000 base pairs in the soil-dwelling bacterium Sorangium cellulosum. Spirochaetes of the genus Borrelia are a notable exception to this arrangement, with bacteria such as Borrelia burgdorferi, the cause of Lyme disease, containing a single linear chromosome.
Prokaryotic chromosomes have less sequence-based structure than eukaryotes. Bacteria have a one-point from which replication starts, whereas some archaea contain multiple replication origins; the genes in prokaryotes are organized in operons, do not contain introns, unlike eukaryotes. Prokaryotes do not possess nuclei. Instead, their DNA is organized into a structure called the nucleoid; the nucleoid occupies a defined region of the bacterial cell. This structure is, dynamic and is maintained and remodeled by the actions of a range of histone-like proteins, which associate with the bacterial chromosome. In archaea, the DNA in chromosomes is more organized, with the DNA packaged within structures similar to eukaryotic nucleosomes. Certain bacteria contain plasmids or other extrachromosomal DNA; these are circular structures in the cytoplasm that contain cellular DNA and play a role in horizontal gene transfer. In prokaryotes and viruses, the DNA is densely packed and organized.