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What are the Main branches of biology/Definitions/characteristics

The word biology comes from the Greek “bíos” which means life, and “logía” which means study. Biology is the science that studies living things in all their aspects and with all their properties. But, if you still do not know in depth what are the main branches of biology. Definitions and characteristics of it, we are going to explain it to you so that you can differentiate one and the other and choose the branch that best suits you, if you are thinking of studying biology.

Read Also: 25 Branches Of Biology A to Z List With Definitions Meanings & Examples

The study of living things covers a wide spectrum of fields. Starting with the microscopic world of bacteria, viruses and genes, passing through living matter, plants, animals and the human being, and concluding with the behavior, relationships and interactions of living beings with each other and with the surrounding environment, it’s all part of the study of biology.

Biology, as a general science, encompasses the basic aspects of organic life, among which we can name the appearance of living beings and species and the conditions and laws associated with their reproduction and development. But, as in all sciences, biology is divided into disciplines to cover all these areas of study . And it could not be otherwise, considering the number of areas in which life develops on this planet.

These divisions by disciplines are known as branches. The branches of biology allow the concentration of existing knowledge in specific research points , which, through new discoveries, further expand said knowledge. What are the main branches of biology?

Biology is divided into a wide variety of branches that cover all aspects of life on this planet, which forces us, for reasons of volume, to mention in this article only those considered to be the most important.

13 major branches of biology

In this article we will limit ourselves to explaining the main branches of biology considered from the point of view of their object of study, starting from microscopic life to group biology.


The study of life begins at the atomic and molecular scale with molecular biology . This science studies the processes that develop from the molecular perspective and that allow the existence of cells. Its objective is to explain the phenomena of life from its macromolecular properties. In particular, of two molecules: nucleic acids and proteins.


It is an academic discipline that is dedicated to the study of cells with regard to their properties, structure, functions, structures contained in the cytoplasm, their interaction with the environment and their life cycle. It was previously known as cytology.

His study focuses on understanding the functioning of cellular systems, regulating them and understanding how their structures work. What are the main branches of biology?


The word physiology comes from the Greek “physis” which means “nature” and from “logos” which means “knowledge, study”. Physiology is the science that studies functions in living organisms .

This discipline, in turn, has separate studies for plants (phytophysiology) and for animals (animal physiology), and within the latter, the human being is studied.


While physiology is responsible for the study of functions, anatomy is responsible for the study of form. Anatomy is the science that studies the structure of living things. This implies, among other things, its shape, location, arrangement and relation to each other of the organs that compose it.

Although anatomy is mainly based on the descriptive evaluation of living organisms, it is closely related to their functioning, which is why it is sometimes confused with physiology. Anatomy studies the bones, muscles, joints and everything that makes up the body.


Its name comes from the Greek “histós” which means “fabrics” and from “logos” which means “knowledge, study”. Histology studies everything that is related to organic tissues . From its microscopic structure and development, to its functions.


The word genetics has its origin in an ancient Greek variation that ended in the word “genesis”, which means “origin.”

Genetics is the study that seeks to understand and explain the transmission of biological inheritance from generation to generation . Its main object of study are genes, made up of segments of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). What are the main branches of biology?

In turn, the study of genetics is subdivided into several branches:

  • Cytogenetics, which is responsible for the study of the chromosome and its dynamics.
  • Classical , which is based on Mendel’s laws to predict inheritance.
  • Quantitative , which analyzes the impact of multiple genes on the phenotype
  • Population , which studies the behavior of genes in a population
  • Developmental , which studies the regulation of genes to form complex organisms from an initial cell.
  • Molecular genetics , which studies genes from a molecular point of view
  • Mutagenesis , which analyzes both the origin and the repercussions of mutations.


This branch of biology is responsible for the study of an organism from the fertilization of a zygote during sexual reproduction until it reaches its adult life. His study covers the processes by which organisms grow and develop.

This discipline studies, among other things, the genetic controls of cell growth, cell differentiation and the processes that originate tissues and organs (morphogenesis). What are the main branches of biology?


Botany is the branch of biology that specializes in the study of plants . The study of plants includes their description, classification, distribution, identification, reproduction, morphology, physiology, relationships between them and with other living beings and the effects they cause on the environment.

The object of study of botany are cyanobacteria, fungi, algae and plants.

Botany, in turn, divides its study in two:

  • Pure botany , which seeks to expand the knowledge of nature
  • Applied botany , which consists of the practical application of the study and which supports the agricultural, forestry and pharmaceutical areas with its research.


The name of zoology comes from the Greek “zoon” which means “animal” and from “logos” which means “knowledge, study”. Zoology is the biological science that deals with the study of animals . And it does so in various fields, such as biology, physiology, morphology and ecology, among others.

Zoology is divided into multiple specialties according to its study objective. For example, when the objective of the study obeys the external description of the animals, it is known as descriptive zoology ; if your goal is to classify, it is called systematic zoology ; if one seeks to observe the tissues it would be histological .


Anthropology is a compound word of Greek origin: “ánthrōpos”, which means “man, human” and “logos” which means “knowledge, study”. What are the main branches of biology?

Anthropology is the science that deals with the study of the human being in an integral way , of its physical characteristics as an animal would be studied, but additionally its culture is studied, which would be the only non-biological component of its study. This means that there is a mix of social science and natural science in this study.


It is the branch of biology that is responsible for the study of the relationships between the different living beings that inhabit a space and the relationships between them and their environment. His study focuses on the processes that influence the distribution and abundance of organisms, as well as the transformation of energy flows and interactions between organisms.


Its reason for being is the study of the changes that living beings experience over time , as well as the kinship relationships between species, which is known as phylogeny.

This is a relatively new branch of biology, which was incorporated into university study in the 1970s and 1980s, when most universities opened departments of evolutionary biology.


Astrobiology studies the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe, which includes both life on Earth and extraterrestrial life.

His main question to answer is “is there life beyond planet Earth? and your goal is to find a way to detect it if there is one. What are the main branches of biology?

This science relies on other sciences such as physics, chemistry, astronomy and astrophysics, among others, to study the possibility of life on other planets and help to recognize potential biospheres different from ours.

Other branches of biology

But there are many more areas of study that biology offers through other branches, and of which we give a very brief overview below.

  • Bacteriology , which includes the study of bacteria
  • Marine biology , which more than a branch of biology, is a system of application of other sciences among which is biology, and whose objective is the study of living beings that inhabit marine ecosystems
  • Microbiology , which is the branch of biology that studies microorganisms, also known as microbes. His study focuses on organisms only visible through a microscope.
  • Epidemiology , which focuses its study on how diseases spread and affect
  • Immunology , is a branch of biology that deals with the study of the immune system
  • Parasitology , which is the science that studies parasitism and parasites
  • Aerobiology : it is the science that studies the distribution of pollen and fungi
  • Arachnology : study the world of arachnids
  • Biophysics : studies the physical processes that occur in biological processes
  • Biogeography : science that studies living things in space
  • Bioinformatics : it is the application of technologies to the management of biological data
  • Mathematical biology : study the construction of biological processes using mathematics
  • Environmental biology : science that studies the interaction of living things with their environment
  • Biochemistry : studies the chemical composition and chemical reactions of living beings.
  • Cytopathology : science that deals with the alterations of cells
  • Cytochemistry : includes the chemical composition of cells, as well as the biological processes of molecules
  • Chorology : studies the distribution of living beings on choriootypes
  • Embryology : part of biology that is responsible for the development of embryos
  • Entomology : science that studies arthropods
  • Ethology : branch of biology, and also psychology, which is responsible for observing the behavior of living beings
  • Phycology : branch of botany that includes algae
  • Phytopathology : studies the diseases of plant beings
  • Herpetology : science that deals with reptiles.
  • Histology : studies the tissues that are part of living things.
  • Ichthyology : study bony fish
  • Limnology : science that deals with the processes of lake environments
  • Mycology : branch of botany that studies fungi
  • Organography : part of biology that deals with the description of the organs of plant and animal beings
  • Oncology : science that studies cancer
  • Ontogeny : study the generation of living beings
  • Ornithology : branch of zoology that studies birds
  • Paleontology : study fossil life What are the main branches of biology?
  • Parasitology : study parasites
  • Synecology : studies the relationships between ecosystems
  • Sociobiology : studies the social relationships between animals
  • Taxonomy : deals with the classification of living things
  • Toxicology : science that studies toxics
  • Virology : Science that studies viruses

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