Growth vs Development in Biology
“Growth” and “development” are probably two terms that have confused us the most during our school years. We have always thought that growth and development were related until our biology teacher had cleared up all of the misconceptions. “Growth” and “development” are two terms which can be related in several different fields. But in this article, we are going to talk about the differences between growth and development in the field of biology.
In the field of biology, both growth and development signify changes in a particular organism in different aspects. “Growth” simply means “an increase in size and mass of a particular organism over a period of time” whereas, “development” is a broader subject. “Development” is defined as “a process wherein a particular organism transforms itself from a lone cell into a more complicated multicellular organism.” Growth is only concerned about how big or massive the organism is; while development can encompass the organism’s structures, functions, abilities, etc. We can say that when an organism grows, it also undergoes the process of development but only in terms of increasing its size and mass.
Growth can be measured in terms of the biomass. “Biomass” is “the mass of the organic material,” but excludes the water content. An organism undergoes growth through mitotic cell division. With mitosis, there is an increase in cell size. The cells of the organism also go through the differentiation process wherein they can perform their specific function. However, when a cell is engulfed in water and shows an increase in size through expansion, this is not considered growth. When the cell is already in its dry weight, it hasn’t increased its size and mass.
No matter how small an organism is, they all grow given a period of time. Usually, the growth pattern of organisms is slow at first then fast. But as the organism ages, growth becomes negative. The replacement of cells does not frequently occur; the cells die and decay. During puberty, humans undergo a rapid period of growth. Genes also affect the growth of an organism. In humans, if your family line is composed of tall people, most likely you are also tall. In the case of plants, their growth depends on the water and light they receive. We also have what we call “tropism” and gravitropism wherein the plants grow depending on the direction of light and the force of gravity.
Now, let us jump into the meaning of “development” within the field of biology. In biology, development is more concerned about the transformation of the organism. From a single cell, the organism can develop into a multicellular organism. The organism’s unique structures, such as its respiratory system, can fully develop until it can perform its function which is respiration. An organism is composed of several structures that are developed in coordination with each structure. Within a period of time, just like growth, the organism awaits its cells to be developed.
We are not exactly sure whether a particular cell will become a red blood cell, a liver cell, or a brain cell. Development involves the differentiation of cells. Within a period of time, these cells can be highly specialized and perform their specific functions. Every organism has its own stage of development. For example, humans can be pregnant and give birth when they reach the stage of puberty or adulthood. The human’s particular reproductive structures are fully developed when they reach that stage.
In the field of biology, both “growth” and “development” signify the changes in a particular organism in different aspects.
“Growth” simply means “an increase in size and mass of a particular organism over a period of time.”
“Development” is defined as “a process wherein a particular organism transforms itself from a lone cell into a more complicated multicellular organism.”