March 3, 2024

Zoology Optional Syllabus for UPSC Mains

Paper – I: Zoology Syllabus

1. Chordate and Non-Chordate: Starting with the topic…

  1. Classification of various phyla and subclasses; Study of relationship: Protostomes and Deuterostomes, Acoelomate and Coelomate, Bilateria and Radiata; Parazoa, Status of Protista, Onychophora, Hemichordata, and Symmetry.
  2. Protozoa: Locomotion, reproduction, nutrition, sex; Common features and life history of Monocystis, Paramecium, Leis mania, and Plasmodium.
  3. Porifera: Skeleton, Reproduction, and canal system.
  4. Platyhelminthes: Parasitic adaptation in Platyhelminthes, features and life history of Taenia, Fasciola, and their pathogenic symptoms.
  5. Cnidaria: Polymorphism, coral reefs, and formation; metagenesis; defensive structures with mechanism; common features and life history of Aurelia and Obelia.
  6. Nemathelminthes: General features, a parasitic adaptation of Ascaris, Wuchereria, and life history.
  7. Arthropoda: Larval forms and parasitism; Crustacea, vision, and respiration in arthropods (Cockroach, Prawn, and scorpion); mouth parts in insects (mosquito, housefly, cockroach, honey bee, and butterfly); metamorphosis in insect and hormonal regulation, Apis and termites and their social behavior.
  8. Annelida: Modes of life in polychaetes; Coelom and metamerism; general features with the life history of Earthworm, Nereis, and Leach.
  9. Mollusca: Feeding, locomotion, respiration, general features and life history of Pila, Sepia, Lamellidens, torsion, and detorsion in gastropods.
  10. Echinodermata: General features and life history of Asterias, Locomotion, Feeding, respiration, larval forms.
  11. Pisces: Respiration, locomotion, and migration.
  12. Protochordate: Origin of chordates; life history and general features of Branchiostoma and Herdmania.
  13. Amphibia: Tetrapods, paedomorphosis, parental care.
  14. Reptilia: Origin of reptiles, the status of Sphenodon and crocodiles, skull types.
  15. Aves: Origin of birds, migration, and flight adaptation.
  16. Functional anatomy: Locomotory organs, endoskeleton, integument and its derivatives, respiratory system, digestive system, circulatory system, urinogenital system, heart and aortic arches, brain and sense organs i.e. eye and ear.
  17. Mammalia: Definition, origin, general features of various mammals like; pouched, egg laying, aquatic and primates, endocrine glands (thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary, adrenal, pancreas, gonads) and their interrelationships.


  1. Ecosystem structure and its function and types, ecological succession, ecological adaptation
  2. Ecosphere or Biosphere: Greenhouse effect and other human-induced changes, ecological succession, Biogeochemical cycles, biomes, biomes and ecotones, community ecology.
  3. Population; population dynamics, characteristics, population stabilization.
  4. Wildlife of India.
  5. Biodiversity and diversity conservation of natural resources.
  6. Remote sensing for sustainable development.
  7. Environmental biodegradation,
  8. Impact of pollution on biosphere and measures for prevention.


  1. Behavior: Sensory filtering, sign stimuli, responsive-ness, learning and memory, instinct, conditioning, habituation, imprinting.
  2. Role of hormones in drive; crypsis, predator detection, predator tactics, social organization in insects, social hierarchies in primates, and the role of pheromones in alarm spreading.
  3. Study of animal behavior; sexual conflict, kinship selfishness, and altruism.
  4. Homing, orientation, navigation, biological rhythms, biological clock, seasonal, tidal, and circadian rhythms.

Economic Zoology:

  1. Apiculture, lac culture, carp culture, sericulture, pearl culture, prawn culture, vermiculture.
  2. Infectious and communicable diseases (filaria, malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, and AIDS) their pathogens, vectors, and prevention.
  3. Livestock and Cattle diseases, vectors (ticks, mites, Tabanus, Stomoxys), Pathogen (helminths).
  4. Pests of sugar cane (Pyrilla perpusiella), rice (Sitophilus oryzae), and oil seed (Achaea Janata).
  5. Transgenic animals.
  6. Medical biotechnology, human genetic disease, and genetic counseling, gene therapy.
  7. Forensic biotechnology.
  8. Application of Statistics- Biostatistics: Experiments designing; hypothesis and null hypothesis; regression, correlation, distribution and measure of central tendency, student-test, chi-square, F-test (one-way & two-way F-test).
  9. Instrumentation Methods:
  • Spectrophotometer, fluorescence microscopy and phase contrast, radioactive tracer, gel electrophoresis, ultracentrifuge, PCR, FISH, ELISA, and chromosome painting.
  • Electron microscopy (TEM, SEM).

Paper-II: Zoology Syllabus

Cell Biology:

  1. Cell Structure and function- organelles (plasma membrane, nucleus, mitochondria, Golgi bodies, ribosomes, endoplasmic reticulum, and lysosomes), cell division (mitosis and meiosis), mitotic spindle and mitotic apparatus, chromosome movements, chromosome type lampbrush and polytene, organization of chromatin, Cell cycle regulation, heterochromatin.
  2. Nucleic acid topology, DNA motif, DNA replication, transcription, RNA processing, translation, protein folding, and transport.


  1. Mendel’s laws of inheritance, recombination, linkage, multiple alleles, genetics of blood groups, pedigree analysis, and hereditary diseases in man.
  2. The modern concept of the gene, genetic regulation, split gene, genetic code.
  3. Sex determination in Drosophila and man, Sex chromosomes and their evolution,
  4. Mutations and mutagenesis.
  5. Cell death, Signal molecules, defects in the signaling pathway, and consequences.
  6. R-DNA or Recombinant DNA technology; cosmid, plasmid, artificial chromosomes as transgenic, vectors, DNA cloning, and principles and methods of whole animal cloning.
  7. Gene regulation and expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
  8. Application of RFLP in DNA fingerprinting, RFLP, AFLP and RAPD, ribozyme technologies, genomics and proteomics, human genome project.


  1. Theories of origin of life.
  2. Theories of evolution; Natural selection, the role of mutations in evolution, evolutionary patterns, molecular drive, mimicry, variation, isolation, and speciation.
  3. Evolution of elephant, horse, and man using fossil data.
  4. Hardy-Weinberg Law.
  5. Continental drift and distribution of animals.
  6. Biological Systematics: International code, Zoological nomenclature, molecular taxonomy, cladistics, and biodiversity.
  7. Biochemistry:
  • Role and Structure of carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids, fats, fatty acids and cholesterol nucleic acids and Bioenergetics.
  • Kreb cycle, Glycolysis, oxidation and reduction, oxidative phosphorylation, energy conservation and release, cyclic AMP, ATP cycle, structure, and role.
  • Hormone classification (Peptide hormones and steroids), biosynthesis, and functions.
  • Enzymes: types and mechanisms of action.
  • Immunoglobulin and immunity.
  • Vitamins and co-enzymes

6. Physiology (with special reference to mammals):

  1. Constituents and composition of blood; factors and mechanism of coagulation, blood groups and Rh factor in man,  iron metabolism, thermo-regulation,  acid-based balance, anticoagulants.
  2. Digestion and absorption: Role of salivary glands, liver, pancreas, and intestinal glands.
  3. Haemoglobin: Role, Composition, and types of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
  4. Excretion: Osmo-regulation and excretory product, nephron, and regulation of urine formation.
  5. Neuron: Neurotransmitters, nerve impulse – its conduction and synaptic transmission.
  6. Types of Muscles: Mechanism of contraction of skeletal muscles, effects of exercise on muscles.
  7. Hearing, Vision, and olfaction in man.
  8. Puberty and menopause in humans. Physiology of reproduction,

7. Developmental Biology:

  1. Process of Gametogenesis;
  2. Direct Interaction i.e. Cell-cell interaction, Genetic and induced teratogenesis, Cell lineage, paedogenesis and neoteny, the role of thyroxine in amphibians, aging, and cell death.
  3. Developmental genes in man, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer, cloning.
  4. Stem cells: Types, Sources, and use in human welfare.
  5. Biogenetic law.

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