The definitive textbook of cell biology for the past 25 years, Molecular Biology of the Cell by Alberts, et al. has been popular with professors and students since the first edition in 1983. The subsequent 2nd edition, 3rd edition, 4th edition, and 5th edition have all continued the legacy of combining up to date, highly technical information with readability. In addition to updating every chapter for each new edition, the authors have provided more and more resources, including an interactive DVD, more explicit links between theory and laboratory investigations and additional practice problems and questions. For students of the life sciences, this is an important text, because it presents a crucial and complex topic in accessible and engaging terms.
Intended as an introduction to the field of cell and molecular biology, Molecular Biology of the Cell covers the basics of cell organization, structure and function, cellular genetics, laboratory methods, and the function of cells in context with other cells. In the case of the fifth edition, additional chapters, available on an included DVD-ROM, cover sexual reproduction, the development of multicellular organisms, an introduction to tissue biology and basics of immunology. This range of topics is comprehensive as one would expect from a quality introductory textbook. Moreover, the additional topics offer flexibility for course organizers as well as enrichment for students.
In addition to its impressive coverage of the topic, Molecular Biology of the Cell is useful as both a course book and a reference book, because it is so well organized. It includes separate headings for each concept and clear section summaries. For a student, this makes learning concepts and studying for examinations easier. It also makes Molecular Biology of the Cell useful as reference text, because it allows for quick scanning of chapters.
Another useful feature of this cell biology textbook, which has remained a focus since the initial publication, is an emphasis on illustrations. Cell biology, as a field of study, is extremely visual, so having pictures to illustrate concepts such as cell structure, cell signaling pathways, cell replication and other complex visual concepts is important for students. The well-drawn, clear pictures integrate with the clearly written text, and make Molecular Biology of the Cell a valuable tool for the multi-modal learning of basic molecular and cell biology.
Because of its clear, concise language, efficient organization, helpful illustrations and thorough coverage of basic and extended topics, Molecular Biology of the Cell has remained useful and popular as a textbook for the past 25 years. Since it continues to be carefully updated and focuses on the future of the field as well its past and present, the book will continue to be a staple on college syllabi. In addition to its usefulness as a textbook, it is also a useful reference.
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A free alternative to Molecular Biology Of The Cell is the free online textbook called the Molecular Biology Web Book located here: http://www.web-books.com/MoBio/.