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Bishwajit Mazumder

Nursing Instructor
Dhaka Nursing College, Dhaka

Organization of living matter:

Biology is the study of Living Matter, a configuration of organic
matter in a dynamic non equilibrium state that exhibits complex
patterns of spatial and temporal organization. Living matter is a
dynamic mixture of organic polymers, nucleic acids and polypeptides,
with significant contributions from carbohydrate and lipids. Inorganic
ions and other organic compounds e.g vitamins, play significant
additional roles in the mixture. It is a mixture far from
thermodynamic equilibrium that generates dissipative structures.

Common characteristics of living matter


Reproduction and Heredity
Growth and development
Energy acquisition and release

1. Homeostasis:
Homeostasis comes from Homeo/Homo and Stasis.
Homeo/Homo means Same/Steady and stasis means State/Condition.
All organisms maintain relatively constant internal conditions,
different from their environment, a process called homeostasis.
Homeostasis is essential for the survival of each cell, and
each cell, through its specialized activities, contributes as a part of a
body system to the maintenance of the internal environment shared by
all such cells.
Homeostasis is the maintenance of a stable internal
environment - temperature, amount of water and amount of glucose.
Homeostasis is essential to keep internal organization and sustain life.
Homeostasis is achieved by a mechanism involving three component.
The receptors (or sensor), the control Center (processor) and the
effectors. Here is an example:
The receptor: Sensors on your skin can detect when the temperature
outside increases.
The control center: The brain receives the signal from the sensor and
processes it (finds a solution).
The effector: Sweat glands get to work, and blood flow increases to
produce sweat, which cools the organism down. This way, the
organisms original balance is restored.

2. Adaption
Adaptation is the process that helps an organism survives in
its environment. The ability to change over time in response to the
environment. This ability is fundamental to the process of evolution
and is determined by the organism's genetics, diet, and other external
Adaptation is the evolutionary process whereby an organism
becomes better able to live in its habitat or habitats. Adaptedness is
the state of being adapted: the degree to which an organism is able to
live and reproduce in a given set of habitats. An adaptive trait is an
aspect of the developmental pattern of the organism which enables or
enhances the probability of that organism surviving and reproducing.
All organisms have features that help them survive in their
surroundings. For example: fish have gills

3. Reproduction and hereditary

All living things reproduce, passing on traits from one
generation to the next. Although some organisms live for a very long
time, no organism lives forever, as far as we know. Because all
organisms die, ongoing life is impossible without reproduction.
Reproduction is the process by which new organisms (offsprings) are
generated. There are two types of reproduction: these include sexual
reproduction and asexual reproduction.
Sexual reproduction:
This involves two individuals of the same species, usually a
male and female. Here the male and female sex cells come together
for fertilization to take place. After this newly fertilized cell goes on
to become a new organism, the offspring. Note that not all sexual
reproduction involves mating.

Asexual reproduction:
This form of reproduction occurs without involvement of another.
Asexual reproduction is very common in single cell organisms and in
many plants. There are many forms of asexual reproduction. Mitosis,
fission, budding, fragmentation, and vegetative reproductions are all
examples of asexual production. In unicellular organisms, the parent
cell just divided to produce two daughter cells. The term for kind of
cell division is Mitosis.
Hereditary: All things are able to pass on their characteristics (traits)
to their offspring through genes (Sets of inherited instructions for
making proteins/regulating traits) that are passed from parent to
offspring each generation. All organisms on earth possess a genetic
system that is based on the replication of a long, complex molecule
called DNA. This mechanism allows for adaptation and evolution
over time, also distinguishing characteristics of living things
4. Growth and Development:
Growth: According to Watson and Lowery growth means an increase
in the physical size of the whole or any of its parts. It can be
measured in terms of centimeters and kilograms or metabolic balance
i. e. retention of hydrogen and calcium in the body. Juan Comas
defines it as the objective manifestation of hypertrophy and
hyperplasia of the organism constituent tissues and is determined by
post natal body size.
Growth is a dominant biological activity during the first two
decades or so of human life. Growth is an increase in the size of the
body as a whole or the size attained by specific parts of the body. It is
a fundamental characteristic of all living organisms. Growth is a form
of motion.
Growth means the increase in the size of the various parts and
organs of the body by multiplication of cells and intercellular

component during the period commencing from fertilization to

physical maturity. Changes in size are outcomes of three underlying
cellular processes: (a) an increase in cell number or hyperplasia; (b)
an increase in cell size or hypertrophy; (c) an increase in intercellular
substances or accretion.
Development: The term development is frequently used along with
growth and even considered synonymous by some people. But growth
and development are not the identical. Therefore it requires a careful
examination and proper understanding. The child is characterized by
two fundamental facts the growth and the development.
Development refers to the increase of functional capacity in
perfect form resulting from production of specialized tissues from
unspecialized ones. The term development has been variously defined
by scientists. Comas (1960) regards development as a quality peculiar
to living matter that carries it through the process of progressive
evolution to a state of perfect function. Hurlock (1941) considers
development as changes in its progressive series which are orderly
and coherent and which lead to maturity. It is, in fact, the consequence
of cellular differentiation that the character and its specificity results
into perfect function. An individual may grow in size but some organs
though fully grown in size may fail to develop to perform the specific
In both growth and development interactions of several
processes with each other are involved. Watson and Lowery (1960)
have tried to distinguish between the two processes. They say that
growth may mean increase in physical size of the whole or any of its
part which may be measured. On the other hand, development
indicates an increase in skill and complexity of function. In any case
the processes of development and growth are not the same but are
interrelated and interdependent.
5. Energy acquisition and release:

Cells cannot survive without power or energy. They need

power to stay alive. They need energy to perform functions such as
growth, maintaining balance, repair, reproduction, movement, and
defense. This means all living organisms must obtain and use energy
to live. Energy is the power to do things. This power comes in many
ways and forms, but they can all be linked to the sun. It is the sources
of all energy.
A living organism can either make its own food or deepened
on others to make food for them. For example green plants produce
their own food from a process called photosynthesis. They use
chloroplasts in their cells to capture energy in sunlight. They combine
it with water and CO2 from the air to produce sugars for themselves.
Green plants are therefore known as producers or autotrophs. Bacteria
can also make their own food or breakdown food.
Other organisms eat green plants (which has a store of energy
they produce) to obtain energy. Rabbit and sheep are example of
consumers. Herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores are all consumers
and they all have to go find food to give them energy.
The process obtaining and using energy by living organisms
are best explained by three important scientific terms namely
anabolism, catabolism, and metabolism. Take a look at the illustration
Anabolism: This is the process whereby living organisms use simpler
substances to put together, or build complex substances such as
carbohydrate, proteins, and fats for storage. Such an activity is known
as anabolic activity.
Catabolism: This is when the cells in living organisms, breakdown
complex substances and molecules in to simpler substances, often to
release energy for use.

Metabolism: This is the sum of all the chemical reactions (anabolic

and catabolic activities) that go on in the cells of living organisms. It
is a continuous process because the moment metabolism stops, the
living organism will die.
6. Detection and response to stimuli
Response to stimuli is an important characteristic of life.
Anything that causes a living organism to react is called
a stimulus (plural is stimuli). Stimuli can be external or internal.
A living organism must be able to respond appropriately to
external/environmental stimuli; a response can take many forms, from
the contraction of a unicellular organism to external chemicals, to
complex reactions involving all the senses of multi cellular organisms.
An example of responding to stimuli is a bacterium forming an end
spore when exposed to tough, unfavorable conditions to protect it.
It helps the organism to stay in balance. Living organisms
have some senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, etc) that help them to
detect changes in their external environment, as well their internal
balance and respond to them.
7. Interaction
The way organisms interact is important for the survival of a
species. There are two types of interaction:
1. Intraspecific interactions
2. Interspecific interactions.
Intraspecific interactions are those that take place among
organisms of the same species while interspecific interactions are
those which happen among individuals of different species.

Organisms of the same species may struggle over territory or

may fight to be the dominant individual. Sometimes the competition
is harmful, for example where there is a struggle between two males
fighting for a female or fighting to be top of the hierarchy. At other
times the competition and interaction can be non-harmful and may
include displays of color, sound and other exhibitions, usually in order
to attract a mate.