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Morphology is a branch of
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Developmenta ...
dealing with the study of the form and structure of
organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are classified by taxonomy (biology), taxonomy into groups such as Multice ...

organism
s and their specific structural features. This includes aspects of the outward appearance (
shape A shape or figure is the form of an object or its external boundary, outline, or external Surface (mathematics), surface, as opposed to other properties such as color, Surface texture, texture, or material type. A plane shape, two-dimensional sh ...

shape
,
structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A ...

structure
,
colour Color (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English ...
,
pattern A pattern is a regularity in the world, in human-made design, or in abstract ideas. As such, the elements of a pattern repeat in a predictable manner. A geometric pattern is a kind of pattern formed of geometric shape A shape is the form of a ...

pattern
,
size File:Comparison of planets and stars (sheet by sheet) (Oct 2014 update).png, A size comparison illustration comparing the sizes of various planets and stars. In each grouping after the first, the last object from the previous group is presented a ...

size
), i.e. external morphology (or
eidonomyEidonomy is the study of the external appearance of an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology, properties of life. ...
), as well as the form and structure of the internal parts like bones and
organs An organ is a group of tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs that co-exist in organ systems. A given organ's tissues can be broadly categorized as parenchyma Parenchyma () is the bulk of functional ...

organs
, i.e. internal morphology (or
anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual conti ...
). This is in contrast to
physiology Physiology (; ) is the scientific study of functions and mechanisms in a living system. As a sub-discipline of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, B ...
, which deals primarily with function. Morphology is a branch of
life science Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling In signal processing Signal processing is an electrical engineering subfield that focuses on analysing, modifying, a ...
dealing with the study of gross structure of an
organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are classified by taxonomy (biology), taxonomy into groups such as Multice ...

organism
or
taxon In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanism ...
and its component parts.


History

The
etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) – p. 633 "Etymology /ˌɛtɪˈmɒlədʒi/ the study of the class in words and the way their meanings have changed throughout time". is the study of the history of words. By extension, th ...
of the word "morphology" is from the
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Dark Ages () ...
(), meaning "form", and (), meaning "word, study, research". While the concept of form in biology, opposed to
function Function or functionality may refer to: Computing * Function key A function key is a key on a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern comp ...
, dates back to Aristotle (see
Aristotle's biology Among Aristotle's many observations of marine biology was that the Octopus macropus, octopus can Deimatic behaviour, change colour when disturbed. Aristotle's biology is the theory of biology, grounded in systematic observation and collection of ...
), the field of morphology was developed by
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a Germany, German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, theatre director, and critic. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe bibliography, His works include Play (theatre), plays, ...

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
(1790) and independently by the German anatomist and physiologist
Karl Friedrich Burdach Karl Friedrich Burdach (12 June 1776 – 16 July 1847) was a German physiologist. He was born in Leipzig and died in Königsberg. He was the first to use the word "biology" and was a pioneer of neuroanatomy. Life Burdach came from a family o ...

Karl Friedrich Burdach
(1800). Among other important theorists of morphology are
Lorenz Oken Lorenz Oken (1 August 1779 – 11 August 1851) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also Ge ...

Lorenz Oken
,
Georges Cuvier Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric, Baron Cuvier (; 23 August 1769 – 13 May 1832), known as Georges Cuvier, was a French naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, and plants, in ...

Georges Cuvier
,
Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (15 April 177219 June 1844) was a French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, Républiq ...
,
Richard Owen Sir Richard Owen (20 July 1804 – 18 December 1892) was an English biologist, comparative anatomist and paleontologist. Despite being a controversial figure, Owen is generally considered to have been an outstanding naturalist with a remark ...

Richard Owen
,
Karl Gegenbaur Karl Gegenbaur (21 August 1826 – 14 June 1903)"Karl Gegenbaur – Encyclopædia Britannica" (biography), ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', 2006, Britannica.coBritannica-KarlG was a Germany, German anatomist and professor who demonstrated that the fi ...

Karl Gegenbaur
and
Ernst Haeckel Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (; 16 February 1834 – 9 August 1919) was a German zoologist, natural history, naturalist, eugenics, eugenicist, philosopher, physician, professor, marine biologist, and artist who discovered, described and ...

Ernst Haeckel
. In 1830, Cuvier and E.G.Saint-Hilaire engaged in a famous debate, which is said to exemplify the two major deviations in biological thinking at the time – whether animal structure was due to function or evolution.


Divisions of morphology

*
Comparative morphology Comparative anatomy is the study of similarities and differences in the anatomy of different species. It is closely related to evolutionary biology and phylogeny (the evolution of species). The science began in the classical era, continuing in Ea ...
is analysis of the patterns of the locus of structures within the body plan of an organism, and forms the basis of taxonomical categorization. *
Functional morphology Functional may refer to: * Movements in architecture: ** Functionalism (architecture) In architecture File:Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted).jpg, upright=1.45, alt=Pl ...
is the study of the relationship between the structure and function of morphological features. * Experimental morphology is the study of the effects of external factors upon the morphology of organisms under experimental conditions, such as the effect of genetic mutation. *
Anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual conti ...
is a "branch of morphology that deals with the structure of
organisms In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are classified by taxonomy (biology), taxonomy into groups such as Multice ...

organisms
". * Molecular morphology is a rarely used term, usually referring to the superstructure of polymers such as fiber formation or to larger composite assemblies. The term is commonly not applied to the spatial structure of individual
molecules A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. A molecule is an electrically neutral group of two or more atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In ...

molecules
. * Gross morphology refers to the collective structures of an organism as a whole as a general description of the form and structure of an organism, taking into account all of its structures without specifying an individual structure.


Morphology and classification

Most taxa differ morphologically from other taxa. Typically, closely related taxa differ much less than more distantly related ones, but there are exceptions to this.
Cryptic species In biology, a species complex is a group of closely related organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology, properties ...
are
species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanis ...

species
which look very similar, or perhaps even outwardly identical, but are reproductively isolated. Conversely, sometimes unrelated taxa acquire a similar appearance as a result of
convergent evolution Convergent evolution is the independent evolution Evolution is change in the Heredity, heritable Phenotypic trait, characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the Gene expression, expre ...
or even
mimicry In evolutionary biology Evolutionary biology is the subfield of biology that studies the evolution, evolutionary processes (natural selection, common descent, speciation) that produced the Biodiversity, diversity of life on Earth. In the 1 ...

mimicry
. In addition, there can be morphological differences within a species, such as in ''
Apoica flavissima ''Apoica flavissima'' is a paper wasp found primarily in South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. It ...
'' where queens are significantly smaller than workers. A further problem with relying on morphological data is that what may appear, morphologically speaking, to be two distinct species, may in fact be shown by
DNA analysis Genetic testing, also known as DNA testing, is used to identify changes in DNA The structure of part of a DNA double helix Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy i ...
to be a single species. The significance of these differences can be examined through the use of
allometric engineering Allometric engineering is the process of experimentally shifting the scaling relationships, for body size or shape, in a population of organisms. More specifically, the process of experimentally breaking the tight covariance In probability theor ...
in which one or both species are manipulated to phenocopy the other species. A step relevant to the evaluation of morphology between traits/features within species, includes an assessment of the terms: homology an
homoplasy
Homology between features indicate that those features have been derived from a common ancestor. Alternatively, homoplasy between features describes those that can resemble each other, but derive independently via
parallel Parallel may refer to: Computing * Parallel algorithm In computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algorithms and the architectures of its computation as well as practical techniques for their a ...
or
convergent evolution Convergent evolution is the independent evolution Evolution is change in the Heredity, heritable Phenotypic trait, characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the Gene expression, expre ...
.


3D cell morphology: classification

Invention and development of microscopy enable the observation of 3-D cell morphology with both high spatial and temporal resolution. The dynamic processes of these cell morphology which are controlled by a
complex system A complex system is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its ...
play an important role in varied important biological process, such as immune and invasive responses.A. D. Doyle, R. J. Petrie, M. L. Kutys, and K. M. Yamada,
Dimensions in cell migration
” Curr. Opin. Cell Biol., vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 642–649, 2013.
A. C. Dufour, T. Y. Liu, D. Christel, T. Robin, C. Beryl, T. Roman, G. Nancy, O.H. Alfred, and J. C. Olivo-Marin.
Signal Processing Challenges in Quantitative 3-D Cell Morphology: More than meets the eye
" IEEE Signal Processing Magazine, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 30-40, 2015.


See also

*
Comparative anatomy Comparative anatomy is the study of similarities and differences in the anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organism In biology, an organism (from Anc ...
*
Computational anatomy Computational anatomy is an interdisciplinary field of biology focused on quantitative investigation and modelling of anatomical shapes variability. It involves the development and application of mathematical, statistical and data-analytical method ...
*
Insect morphology Insect morphology is the study and description of the physical form of insect Insects or Insecta (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was ...
*
Morphometrics Morphometrics (from Greek μορϕή ''morphe'', "shape, form", and -μετρία ''metria'', "measurement") or morphometry refers to the quantitative analysis of ''form'', a concept that encompasses size and shape. Morphometric analyses are comm ...
*
NeuromorphologyNeuromorphology (from Greek νεῦρον, neuron, "nerve"; μορφή, morphé, "form"; -λογία, -logia, “study of”) is the study of nervous system In Biology, biology, the nervous system is a Complex system, highly complex part of an ...
*
Phenetics In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanism ...
*
Phenotype right , Here the relation between genotype and phenotype is illustrated, using a Punnett square, for the character of petal color in pea plants. The letters B and b represent genes for color, and the pictures show the resultant phenotypes. Thi ...

Phenotype
*
Phenotypic plasticity Phenotypic plasticity refers to some of the changes in an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology, properties of l ...
*
Plant morphology Phytomorphology is the study of the physical form and external structure of plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things t ...

Plant morphology


References


External links

* {{Authority control Branches of biology Comparative anatomy