Glossary

An A-Z of keywords and phrases, all of which are relevant to the post-16 biology curriculum.

 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z
Vaccination

Giving antigens that are dead, or alive but weakened, to a person to trigger an immune response that will provide active immunity. Vaccinations sometimes contain the products of the pathogen (eg a toxin produced by a bacterium), rather than the pathogen itself.

Vacuoles

Internal bags, surrounded by a membrane, that cells use for storage of food or waste.

Vasodilation

A widening of the lumen (the internal space) of blood vessels.

Vector

An organism that does not cause disease directly, but which passes pathogens from one host to another.

Ventral tegmental area

Found in the midbrain, this area produces dopamine and forms part of one of four major dopamine pathways in the brain.

Virion

A virus particle. It includes the virus’s genetic material (DNA or RNA) and a protein coat.

Virulent

Causing severe illness. The term is not only used in relation to viruses, but also to bacteria and other parasites.

Virus

A small infectious particle with a single type of nucleic acid (either DNA or RNA), which is usually housed within a protein shell. Viruses can replicate only within the living cells of other organisms. A single virus particle is called a virion.

Vitamin

A substance that enables healthy growth and development. We must consume vitamins, in limited amounts, because the body cannot produce them naturally. Each vitamin is soluble either in water or in fat.

Vitamin A

A fat-soluble vitamin also known as retinol. It is essential for growth, vision in dim light, and the maintenance of soft mucous tissue. It is found in milk products, egg yolk, liver and some vegetables, including carrots and cabbage.

Vitamin D

A fat-soluble vitamin that helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the body. It is needed to keep bones and teeth healthy. Vitamin D deficiency can cause the disease rickets in children. Food sources include liver, eggs and fish oil, but most vitamin D is produced by the skin following small bursts of direct exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin E

A fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant. It also maintains healthy eyes and skin and strengthens the immune system. Vitamin E is fairly widely eaten, so a deficiency is unlikely to occur. Particularly good food sources are vegetable oil, nuts, eggs, butter and wholemeal cereal.

VO2 max

A measurement of an individual’s aerobic capacity; the maximum rate at which the heart, lungs and muscles can use oxygen.