Biochemistry, study of the chemical substances and processes that occur in plants, animals, and microorganisms and of the changes they undergo during development and life. It deals with the chemistry of life, and as such it draws on the techniques of analytical, organic, and physical chemistry, as well as those of physiologists concerned with the molecular basis of vital processes. All chemical changes within the organism—either the degradation of substances, generally to gain necessary energy, or the buildup of complex molecules necessary for life processes—are collectively termed metabolism. These chemical changes depend on the action of organic catalysts known as enzymes, and enzymes, in turn, depend for their existence on the genetic apparatus of the cell. It is not surprising, therefore, that biochemistry enters into the investigation of chemical changes in disease, drug action, and other aspects of medicine, as well as in nutrition, genetics, and agriculture.