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GATE Syllabus for Life Sciences (XL)

Please note – The GATE exam will also have General Aptitude section. The General Aptitude section GATE syllabus is published separately.

Section P: Chemistry (Compulsory)

Atomic structure and periodicity: Planck’s quantum theory, wave particle duality, uncertainty principle, quantum mechanical model of hydrogen atom, electronic configuration of atoms and ions. Periodic table and periodic properties: ionization energy, electron affinity, electronegativity and atomic size.

Structure and bonding: Ionic and covalent bonding, MO and VB approaches for diatomic molecules, VSEPR theory and shape of molecules, hybridization, resonance, dipole moment, structure parameters such as bond length, bond angle and bond energy, hydrogen bonding and van der Waals interactions. Ionic solids, ionic radii and lattice energy (Born‐Haber cycle). HSAB principle.

s.p. and d Block Elements: Oxides, halides and hydrides of alkali, alkaline earth metals, B, Al, Si, N, P, and S. General characteristics of 3d elements. Coordination complexes: valence bond and crystal field theory, color, geometry, magnetic properties and isomerism.

Chemical Equilibria: Colligative properties of solutions, ionic equilibria in solution, solubility product, common ion effect, hydrolysis of salts, pH, buffer and their applications. Equilibrium constants (Kc, Kp and Kx) for homogeneous reactions.

Electrochemistry: Conductance, Kohlrausch law, cell potentials, emf, Nernst equation, Galvanic cells, thermodynamic aspects and their applications.

Reaction Kinetics: Rate constant, order of reaction, molecularity, activation energy, zero, first and second order kinetics, catalysis and elementary enzyme reactions.

Thermodynamics: First law, reversible and irreversible processes, internal energy, enthalpy, Kirchoff equation, heat of reaction, Hess’s law, heat of formation. Second law, entropy, free energy and work function. Gibbs‐Helmholtz equation, Clausius‐Clapeyron equation, free energy change, equilibrium constant and Trouton’s rule. Third law of thermodynamics

Structure-Reactivity Correlations and Organic Reaction Mechanisms: Acids and bases, electronic and steric effects, optical and geometrical isomerism, tautomerism, conformers and concept of aromaticity. Elementary treatment of SN1, SN2, E1 and E2 reactions, Hoffmann and Saytzeff rules, addition reactions, Markownikoff rule and Kharash effect. Aromatic electrophilic substitutions, orientation effect as exemplified by various functional groups. Diels‐Alder, Wittig and hydroboration reactions. Identification of functional groups by chemical tests.

Section Q: Biochemistry

  • Organization of life; Importance of water; Structure and function of biomolecules: Amino acids, Carbohydrates, Lipids, Proteins and Nucleic acids; Protein structure, folding and function: Myoglobin, Hemoglobin, Lysozyme, Ribonuclease A, Carboxypeptidase and Chymotrypsin.
  • Enzyme kinetics including its regulation and inhibition, Vitamins and Coenzymes ; Metabolism and bioenergetics; Generation and utilization of ATP; Metabolic pathways and their regulation: glycolysis, TCA cycle, pentose phosphate pathway, oxidative phosphorylation,gluconeogenesis, glycogen and fatty acid metabolism; Metabolism of Nitrogen containing compounds: nitrogen fixation, amino acids and nucleotides. Photosynthesis: Calvin cycle.
  • Biochemical separation techniques: ion exchange, size exclusion and affinity chromatography, Characterization of biomolecules by electrophoresis, UV-visible and fluorescence spectroscopy and Mass spectrometry.
  • Cell structure and organelles; Biological membranes; Transport across membranes; Signal transduction; Hormones and neurotransmitters.
  • DNA replication, transcription and translation; Biochemical regulation of gene expression; Recombinant DNA technology and applications: PCR, site directed mutagenesis and DNA-microarray.
  • Immune system: Active and passive immunity; Complement system; Antibody structure, function and diversity; Cells of the immune system: T, B and macrophages; T and B cell activation; Major histocompatibilty complex; T cell receptor; Immunological techniques: Immunodiffusion, immunoelectrophoresis, RIA and ELISA.

Section R: Botany

Plant Systematics: Major systems of classification, plant groups, phylogenetic relationships and molecular systematics.

Plant Anatomy: Plant cell structure and its components; cell wall and membranes; organization, organelles, cytoskeleton, anatomy of root, stem and leaves, floral parts, embryo and young seedlings, meristems, vascular system, their ontogeny, structure and functions, secondary growth in plants and stellar organization.

Morphogenesis & Development: Cell cycle, cell division, life cycle of an angiosperm, pollination, fertilization, embryogenesis, seed formation, seed storage proteins, seed dormancy and germination.

Concept of cellular totipotency, clonal propagation; organogenesis and somatic embryogenesis, artificial seed, somaclonal variation, secondary metabolism in plant cell culture, embryo culture, in vitro fertilization.

Physiology and Biochemistry: Plant water relations, transport of minerals and solutes, stress physiology, stomatal physiology, signal transduction, N2 metabolism, photosynthesis, photorespiration; respiration, Flowering: photoperiodism and vernalization, biochemical mechanisms involved in flowering; molecular mechanism of senencensce and aging, biosynthesis, mechanism of action and physiological effects of plant growth regulators, structure and function of biomolecules, (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acid), enzyme kinetics

Genetics: Principles of Mendelian inheritance, linkage, recombination, genetic mapping; extrachromosomal inheritance; prokaryotic and eukaryotic genome organization, regulation of gene expression, gene mutation and repair, chromosomal aberrations (numerical and structural), transposons.

Plant Breeding and Genetic Modification: Principles, methods – selection, hybridization, heterosis; male sterility, genetic maps and molecular markers, sporophytic and gametophytic self incompability, haploidy, triploidy, somatic cell hybridization, marker-assisted selection, gene transfer methods viz. direct and vector-mediated, plastid transformation, transgenic plants and their application in agriculture, molecular pharming, plantibodies.

Economic Botany: A general account of economically and medicinally important plants- cereals, pulses, plants yielding fibers, timber, sugar, beverages, oils, rubber, pigments, dyes, gums, drugs and narcotics. Economic importance of algae, fungi, lichen and bacteria.

Plant Pathology: Nature and classification of plant diseases, diseases of important crops caused by fungi, bacteria,nematodes and viruses, and their control measures, mechanism(s) of pathogenesis and resistance, molecular detection of pathogens; plant-microbe beneficial interactions.

Ecology and Environment: Ecosystems – types, dynamics, degradation, ecological succession; food chains and energy flow; vegetation types of the world, pollution and global warming, speciation and extinction, conservation strategies, cryopreservation, phytoremediation.

Section S: Microbiology

Historical Perspective: Discovery of microbial world; Landmark discoveries relevant to the field of microbiology; Controversy over spontaneous generation; Role of microorganisms in transformation of organic matter and in the causation of diseases.

Methods in Microbiology: Pure culture techniques; Theory and practice of sterilization; Principles of microbial nutrition; Enrichment culture techniques for isolation of microorganisms; Light-, phase contrast- and electron-microscopy.

Microbial Taxonomy and Diversity: Bacteria, Archea and their broad classification; Eukaryotic microbes: Yeasts, molds and protozoa; Viruses and their classification; Molecular approaches to microbial taxonomy.

Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells: Structure and Function: Prokaryotic Cells: cell walls, cell membranes, mechanisms of solute transport across membranes, Flagella and Pili, Capsules, Cell inclusions like endospores and gas vesicles; Eukaryotic cell organelles: Endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, mitochondria and chloroplasts.

Microbial Growth: Definition of growth; Growth curve; Mathematical expression of exponential growth phase; Measurement of growth and growth yields; Synchronous growth; Continuous culture; Effect of environmental factors on growth.

Control of Micro-organisms: Effect of physical and chemical agents; Evaluation of effectiveness of antimicrobial agents.

Microbial Metabolism: Energetics: redox reactions and electron carriers; An overview of metabolism; Glycolysis; Pentose-phosphate pathway; Entner-Doudoroff pathway; Glyoxalate pathway; The citric acid cycle; Fermentation; Aerobic and anaerobic respiration; Chemolithotrophy; Photosynthesis; Calvin cycle; Biosynthetic pathway for fatty acids synthesis; Common regulatory mechanisms in synthesis of amino acids; Regulation of major metabolic pathways.

Microbial Diseases and Host Pathogen Interaction: Normal microbiota; Classification of infectious diseases; Reservoirs of infection; Nosocomial infection; Emerging infectious diseases; Mechanism of microbial pathogenicity; Nonspecific defense of host; Antigens and antibodies; Humoral and cell mediated immunity; Vaccines; Immune deficiency; Human diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, and pathogenic fungi.

Chemotherapy/Antibiotics: General characteristics of antimicrobial drugs; Antibiotics: Classification, mode of action and resistance; Antifungal and antiviral drugs.

Microbial Genetics: Types of mutation; UV and chemical mutagens; Selection of mutants; Ames test for mutagenesis; Bacterial genetic system: transformation, conjugation, transduction, recombination, plasmids, transposons; DNA repair; Regulation of gene expression: repression and induction; Operon model; Bacterial genome with special reference to E.coli; Phage λ and its life cycle; RNA phages; RNA viruses; Retroviruses; Basic concept of microbial genomics.

Microbial Ecology: Microbial interactions; Carbon, sulphur and nitrogen cycles; Soil microorganisms associated with vascular plants.

Section T: Zoology

Animal world: Animal diversity, distribution, systematics and classification of animals, phylogenetic relationships.

Evolution: Origin and history of life on earth, theories of evolution, natural selection, adaptation, speciation.

Genetics: Basic Principles of inheritance, molecular basis of heredity, sex determination and sex-linked characteristics, cytoplasmic inheritance, linkage, recombination and mapping of genes in eukaryotes, population genetics.

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: Nucleic acids, proteins, lipids and carbohydrates; replication, transcription and translation; regulation of gene expression, organization of genome, Kreb’s cycle, glycolysis, enzyme catalysis, hormones and their actions, vitamins

Cell Biology: Structure of cell, cellular organelles and their structure and function, cell cycle, cell division, chromosomes and chromatin structure.

Gene expression in Eukaryotes : Eukaryotic gene organization and expression (Basic principles of signal transduction).

Animal Anatomy and Physiology: Comparative physiology, the respiratory system, circulatory system, digestive system, the nervous system, the excretory system, the endocrine system, the reproductive system, the skeletal system, osmoregulation.

Parasitology and Immunology: Nature of parasite, host-parasite relation, protozoan and helminthic parasites, the immune response, cellular and humoral immune response, evolution of the immune system.

Development Biology: Embryonic development, cellular differentiation, organogenesis, metamorphosis, genetic basis of development, stem cells.

Ecology: The ecosystem, habitats, the food chain, population dynamics, species diversity, zoogerography, biogeochemical cycles, conservation biology.

Animal Behaviour: Types of behaviours, courtship, mating and territoriality, instinct, learning and memory, social behaviour across the animal taxa, communication, pheromones, evolution of animal behaviour.

Section U: Food Technology

Food Chemistry and Nutrition: Carbohydrates: structure and functional properties of mono-, oligo-, & polysaccharides including starch, cellulose, pectic substances and dietary fibre, gelatinization and retrogradation of starch. Proteins: classification and structure of proteins in food, biochemical changes in post mortem and tenderization of muscles. Lipids: classification and structure of lipids, rancidity, polymerization and polymorphism. Pigments: carotenoids, chlorophylls, anthocyanins, tannins and myoglobin. Food flavours: terpenes, esters, aldehydes, ketones and quinines. Enzymes: specificity, simple and inhibition kinetics, coenzymes, enzymatic and nonenzymatic browning. Nutrition: balanced diet, essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, protein efficiency ratio, water soluble and fat soluble vitamins, role of minerals in nutrition, co-factors, anti-nutrients, nutraceuticals, nutrient deficiency diseases. Chemical and biochemical c hanges: changes occur in foods during different processing.

Food Microbiology: Characteristics of microorganisms: morphology of bacteria, yeast, mold and actinomycetes, spores and vegetative cells, gram-staining. Microbial growt h: growth and death kinetics, serial dilution technique. Food spoilage: spoilage microorganisms in different food products including milk, fish, meat, egg, cereals and their products. Toxins from microbes: pathogens and non-pathogens including Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Shigella, Escherichia, Bacillus, Clostridium, and Aspergillus genera. Fermented foods and beverages: curd, yoghurt, cheese, pickles, soya-sauce, sauerkraut, idli, dosa, vinegar, alcoholic beverages and sausage.

Food Products Technology: Processing principles: thermal processing, chilling, freezing, dehydration, addition of preservatives and food additives, irradiation, fermentation, hurdle technology, intermediate moisture foods. Food pack aging and storage: packaging materials, aseptic packaging, controlled and modified atmosphere storage. Cereal processing and products: milling of rice, wheat, and maize, parboiling of paddy, bread, biscuits, extruded products and ready to eat breakfast cereals. Oil processing: expelling, solvent extraction, refining and hydrogenation. Fruits a nd vegetables p rocessing: extraction, clarification, concentration and packaging of fruit juice, jam, jelly, marmalade, squash, candies, tomato sauce, ketchup, and puree, potato chips, pickles. Plantation crops processing and products: tea, coffee, cocoa, spice, extraction of essential oils and oleoresins from spices. Milk and milk products processing: pasteurization and sterilization, cream, butter, ghee, icecream, cheese and milk powder. Processing of animal products: drying, canning, and freezing of fish and meat; production of egg powder. Waste utilization: pectin from fruit wastes, uses of by-products from rice milling. Food standards and qu ality maintenance: FPO, PFA, Agmark, ISI, HACCP, food plant sanitation and cleaning in place (CIP).

Food Engineering: Mass and energy balance; Momentum transfer: Flow rate and pressure drop relationships for Newtonian fluids flowing through pipe, Reynolds number. Heat transfer: heat transfer by conduction, convection, radiation, heat exchangers. Mass transfer: molecular diffusion and Fick’s law, conduction and convective mass transfer, permeability through single and multilayer films. Mechanical operations: size reduction of solids, high pressure homogenization, filtration, centrifugation, settling, sieving, mixing & agitation of liquid. Thermal operations: thermal sterilization, evaporation of liquid foods, hot air drying of solids, spray and freeze-drying, freezing and crystallization. Mass transfer oper ations: psychrometry, humidification and dehumidification operations.

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