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2019 HSC Biology Exam Paper Solutions (with Option Topics)

In this post, our Science Team gives you the answer to the 2019 HSC Biology paper.

Our Biology Team has been hard at work putting together the solutions to the 2019 HSC Biology Exam. Read the solutions below and see how you went!


2019 HSC Biology Exam Paper Solutions


Section 1: Multiple Choice

1DHaemophilia is genetic while all the other options are caused by a pathogen.
2CThe body produces antibodies that match the antigens present in the vaccine.
3DThe predator acts as a selection pressure, reducing the number of dark beetles over time.
4DA nucleotide is composed of one base, one sugar and one phosphate group.
5CStomach acid is part of the first line of defence.
6CCochlear implants bypass the ear canal, ossicles and hair cells to electrically stimulate the auditory nerve.
7AWhile antibiotic Z is most effective against bacteria B and antibiotic X is most effective against bacteria A, antibiotic W is fairly effective against both.
8BThe data is not continuous. A and D represent the number of animals not the number of species.
9AInternal fertilisation occurs in an enclosed space (reproductive tract) to prevent the gametes from drying out.
10CThe number of infected cattle will be dependent on the quarantine policy of each island.
11BThe dominant phenotype will be visible in both homozygous and heterozygous individuals.
12DType 2 diabetics maintain blood glucose levels above that of a non-diabetic.
13BGenetic drift is the change of allele frequency in a population due to random chance events.
14BThe complimentary mRNA strand would be GCG UAG UAC GAU so the matching anticodons would be CGC AUC AUG CUA.
15CA germ line mutation occurs in DNA during meiosis in the production of a gamete. If the mutation occurs in non-coding (‘junk’) DNA it is less likely to have any impact.
16DStudent X has been exposed to antigens from the pathogen before so will experience a secondary response. Student Y has not been exposed to the antigens before so will experience a primary response. According to the graph the primary response would not reach 1000 mg/L.
17AThe inheritance pattern must be dominant as there are two affected parents with an unaffected child. It cannot be sex linked recessive as there is an affected female with an unaffected son.
18BThis is a positive feedback loop as the response to the stimulus results in a further increase to the stimulus.
19ACas9 is an enzyme as it is a reusable molecule that catalyses a reaction (breaking bonds between DNA bases).
20DgRNA has nucleotides complementary to the target DNA so that the Cas9 enzyme binds and cuts at the exact position required.


Section 2: Short response

Question 21

An increase in body temperature is [detected by the hypothalamus in the brain]. Nerve impulses travel to blood vessels and sweat glands causing [blood vessels to dilate] and sweat to be produced by sweat glands. This causes excess blood flow to the skin and [evaporative cooling]. The result is heat loss from blood and a fall in body temperature.


Question 22

Somatic mutationGerm-line mutation
LocationAny body cell other than sex cellsSex cells in the gonads only
Effect on offspringNone – mutation is not passed on to offspringEvery cell in the offspring carries the mutation
ExampleMutation in a skin cell resulting in skin cancerTrisomy 21 – an extra copy of chromosome 21 in every cell of the offspring


Question 23

Educational programs are initiatives developed by the Government and non-government organisations in order to minimise the incidence of disease amongst the community. Initiatives include awareness advertisements on TV and radio, on the sides of buses, in schools, doctors’ surgeries or in school programs such as life education. These initiatives influence lifestyle changes that will reduce the incidence of non-infectious disease. For example, epidemiological studies have identified a relationship between cigarette smoking and cancers, particularly lung cancer. In response, the Australian Government has developed campaigns to increase awareness and influence lifestyle changes to prevent the incidence of lung cancer. After the introduction of the ‘quit now’ campaign in 1997-98 it was found that there was a 1.8-3.1% reduction in the prevalence of smoking within 18 months of the start of the campaign. This is thought to have prevented 922 premature deaths and saved $24 million in health expenditure through Medicare.


Question 24

Artificial insemination is the collection and manual placement of sperm into the female reproductive tract. This is often used to selectively breed two organisms of the same species with favourable traits. For example, impregnating a mare without requiring the stallion to be in the same location. Artificial insemination can increase biodiversity at the genetic level as it allows crosses that would not normally occur due to distance or physical differences. However, sperm from the same male can be used many times and this can lead to increased levels of these genes within the population i.e. decreased genetic diversity.

Transgenic species in agriculture initially increase genetic diversity by introducing genes from one species to another e.g. Bt cotton that has a gene from a bacterium. A disadvantage is that transgenic organisms are usually cloned which reduces biodiversity as it means large areas of crop are genetically identical. Bt cotton may also outcompete native species, further reducing biodiversity.


Question 25

(a) Humans usually have two sex chromosomes, XX in females and XY in males. This karyotype has only one sex chromosome (X).

(b) The karyotype above is an example of aneuploidy as a result of non-disjunction during meiosis. Each daughter cell produced during meiosis should have N chromosomes, but in some cases non-disjunction occurs where chromosomes do not separate properly during Anaphase I or Anaphase II producing some daughter cells with N+1 and some cells with N-1. In this case, during fertilisation a N-1 gamete has combined with a normal N gamete to produce a 2N-1 karyotype in the zygote. This specific karyotype would result in Turner syndrome.


Question 26

In the regions with a high percentage of the population able to digest lactose it is likely that in the past cow’s milk was used as an important food source. There would have been periods where other sources of food failed and individuals that could not digest lactose perished and did not pass their genes to the next generation. Through this process of natural selection, those with a mutation that allowed them to produce the lactase enzyme for longer would have survived and passed on their genes.

While there is a protein coding gene responsible for the production of the lactase enzyme, it is not on this gene where the mutation has occurred. What has changed is when the gene is switched on and off, which is managed by epigenetic controls (e.g. promotors, inhibitors, silencers). In populations with extended lactose tolerance there must be a mutation on a non-coding region of DNA that controls the expression of the lactase gene, rather than a mutation on the lactase gene itself.


Question 27

(a) Budding is a form of asexual reproduction.

(b) As yeast reproduces and its biomass increases, the yeast converts glucose into carbon dioxide and ethanol in a fermentation reaction. Therefore, carbon dioxide gas can be used as an indicator of reproduction rate.

1. Four 1L flasks or bottles should each be set up with 500mL of warm water mixed with 100g of yeast powder and 200g of sugar.

2. A balloon should be sealed over the mouth of each flask so the balloon will inflate as carbon dioxide gas is produced.

3. One flask should be placed in a refrigerator at 10oC, one flask at room temperature (~23oC), one flask in an incubator at 30oC and another in an incubator at 40oC.

4. After 2h the diameter of the balloon attached to each flask should be measured with a tape measure to compare how much carbon dioxide gas has been produced at the four different temperatures.

5. Steps 1 to 4 should be repeated at least 2 more times.

Note: An alternative answer could include counting the number of yeast buds or colonies on agar plates that have been incubated at different temperatures.


Question 28

(a) The patient inherited H and r alleles from the father, h and R from the mother.


Chromosome IChromosome II
Before crossing overr      r


H    H

R    R


h    h

After crossing overr    r

H    h

R    R

H    h













Key: r = Stargardt disease, R = normal retina, H = Huntington’s disease, h = normal nerve cells, – – – point of crossing over


 Question 29

Transpiration is the process by which water evaporates from the stomata in the leaf creating a transpiration stream that draws in water through the roots. Water loss must be controlled in plants or the plant will not be able to perform photosynthesis and it will lose turgor pressure and wilt. Having hairs on the leaf surface covering the stomata slows down the movement of water molecules out of the stomata into the atmosphere, building up humidity outside the stomata and slowing down the loss of water from  the leaf through transpiration.


Question 30

If the original parents were pure breeding (homozygous) the F1 generation will all be heterozygous. For Seed shape, the F2 generation shows the typical 3:1 ‘Mendelian’ ratio of phenotypes of offspring seen when crossing two heterozygous parents with alleles that have a simple dominant/recessive relationship. For example if R = round seeds and r = wrinkled seeds


When the F1 generation is bred together 3 genotypes are produced: RR (25%), Rr (50%) and rr (25%). However due to the presence of the dominant allele only two phenotypes are produced: Round (75%) and wrinkled (35%).

By contrast crossing two heterozygous parents from the F1 generation has produced three different phenotypes for feather colour. This indicates a case of incomplete dominance or co-dominance (as shown in the punnet square below). If B = black feathers and W = white feathers


In a case of co-dominance the F2 generation will have 25% birds with black feathers, 25% with only white feathers and 50% of birds will have speckled (black and white) feathers. In the case of incomplete dominance 50% of birds would have grey feathers.


Question 31

(a) The bacterium that causes the plague (Yersinia pestis) uses fleas as a vector in order to bypass the first line of defence (skin). When a person is bitten the bacterium leaves the flea and enters the blood stream of the human host.

(b) Pathogens are infectious agents that cause disease, so the mode of transmission of a pathogen will influence how a disease spreads through a population. Therefore, by preventing the transmission of pathogens we can prevent the spread of disease.  Infectious diseases can spread by direct or indirect transmission. In direct contact transmission there is some physical contact between an infected person and a susceptible person e.g. body fluids, droplets. In indirect contact transmission there is no direct human-to human contact e.g. airborne transmission, contaminated objects, food and drinking water. Vector transmission is a specific form of indirect transmission that typically involves a bite from an animal or insect.


Question 32

(a) Between 1900 to 2010 there has been an increase in the human population from 1.2 to 6.8 billion and an increase in the actual number of people at risk of Malaria from 0.9 billion to 3.4 billion. Despite this, the percentage of the population at risk of Malaria has actually decreased from 75% to 50% and the number of countries that experience cases of Malaria has declined from 140 to 88. By contrast, reported cases of dengue fever has increased from 1950 to 2010 and the disease has spread to many more countries and continents in that time.

(b) Malaria is a disease that has occurred in the human population for thousands of years.   By contrast dengue is a relatively new disease occurring between 100-800 years ago and has been restricted geographically until the 1950s, this makes most of the human population susceptible hosts that do not have immunity to the disease. While Malaria is caused by the plasmodium parasite, Dengue fever is a virus that has a variety of strains and can mutate easily, further preventing populations from developing immunity. This may help explain the how the number of countries reporting cases of Malaria reduced from 140 to 88, while between 1950 and 2010 the number of countries reporting dengue fever has increased.

Historically there has been more awareness of Malaria and the mosquito vector that spreads it.  There was a Global Malaria Eradication program started in 1955 which used DDT pesticide, draining of swamps and chloroquine-based drugs. There was a 14% decrease in the population at risk between 1946 and 1975 indicating that the programs succeeded in eradicating the disease in certain areas. Dengue fever has not attracted the same attention and coordinated global elimination programs. In fact it is referred to as a ‘neglected tropical disease’.

While international trade and travel development since the 1950s can rapidly spread the Dengue pathogen and the Aedes mosquito vector that causes it, there is no treatment for Dengue. This means more infected individuals that are sick for longer and can spread the disease to others.


Question 33

(a) In the nucleus the gene/s for amyloid beta are copied onto an mRNA strand by RNA polymerase in the nucleus (Transcription). In the cytoplasm a Ribosome will undergo Translation of the mRNA strand into a string of amino acids.  The tRNA molecules with anticodons that match the codons on the mRNA deliver amino acids to the ribosome that joins them together with peptide bonds. This creates a polypeptide chain or multiple chains which will be folded and modified to become amyloid beta protein.

(b)(i) Alleles are alternative forms of a gene. While an individual can only carry 2 alleles for a gene, for many genes there are more than two different alleles for a gene in the population. For example clover has 7 different alleles for leaf pattern resulting in 22 different possible genotypes for leaf pattern.

(ii) The e2, e3 and e4 alleles are each associated with a risk level for Alzheimer’s, and the different alleles interact with each other to produce different risk levels. Allele e3 produces an average risk, while e2 seems to be a protective factor for this disease, reducing the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s by 40%. Inheriting a copy of e4 increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, even in combination with e2. Inheriting two copies of the e4 allele makes developing Alzheimer’s 14.9 times more likely. Therefore inheriting one or more e2 alleles reduces risk of Alzheimer’s while one or more e4 alleles increases the risk of Alzheimer’s developing.

(c) Individuals with untreated Herpes Simplex Virus have a higher risk of dementia and this risk increases with the number of years that pass. After 11 years of follow up the cumulative risk of dementia for this group is around 2.75. For those with HSV infection that was treated with antivirals the risk increases much more slowly and after 11 years the cumulative risk is 1. The risk of dementia still increases over time for those without any HSV infection but only very slightly (less than 0.5 after 11 years). For all groups the risk of developing dementia increases over time but increases the fastest between 10 and 11 years.

(d) Infectious diseases are caused by a pathogen and can be passed from person to person while non-infectious diseases cannot be passed on to another person except through inheritance. None of the information provided in Q33 suggests that a person with Alzheimer’s disease symptoms can pass this disease on to another person through direct or indirect contact. However, the table in 33 (b) shows that the genotype of an individual has a very strong influence over whether an individual develops Alzheimer’s. An individual with two harmful e4 alleles has 14.9 times higher risk of Alzheimer’s and with two e2 alleles the disease is 40% less likely. This indicates it should be classed as a non-infectious disease.

The graph in 33(C) shows there is an increased risk of dementia after Herpes Simplex Virus infection, but Alzheimer’s is not the only cause of dementia, so it is unclear exactly how the graph relates to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The graph also shows that even those that have not experienced HSV infection show a gradual increase in risk of dementia over time which indicates that HSV is not the only cause of the disease.

A way to establish whether Alzheimer’s is caused by a pathogen would be to use Koch’s postulates which were developed in order to identify which microbes are associated with a specific disease. If the postulates were to be followed:

  • All individuals with Alzheimer’s disease would be found to have the same pathogen within their system.
  • The pathogen would be isolated, identified and cultured.-When a healthy individual was infected with the cultured pathogen they would develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The pathogen would be identifiable in the newly infected host.
  • While this type of experiment would not be ethical to perform in humans it could be attempted in mice.

In addition to genetic factors and HSV infection, Alzheimer’s disease has also been associated with bacterial infection, gender, head injury and cholesterol levels. Therefore, there seem to be multiple factors that affect the risk of Alzheimer’s and a single pathogen alone is not responsible. At this point Alzheimer’s disease should be classified as a non-infectious disease. Further studies are needed to reveal the specific role of pathogens in development of the disease.

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Written by Matrix Science Team

The Matrix Science Team are teachers and tutors with a passion for Science and a dedication to seeing Matrix Students achieving their academic goals.


© Matrix Education and, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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