Characteristics of life
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Characteristics of Life. Biology 9. Characteristics of all Living Things. Living Things: Are made up of units called cells Reproduce Are based on a universal genetic code Grow and develop Obtain and use of materials and energy Respond to their environment

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Characteristics of Life

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Characteristics of life

Characteristics of Life

Biology 9


Characteristics of all living things

Characteristics of all Living Things

  • Living Things:

    • Are made up of units called cells

    • Reproduce

    • Are based on a universal genetic code

    • Grow and develop

    • Obtain and use of materials and energy

    • Respond to their environment

    • Maintain a stable internal environment

    • Change over time


Life defined

Life Defined

  • Living things exhibit ALL of these characteristics.

  • Dead things USED to exhibit all of these characteristics

  • Non-living things do not exhibit ALL of the characteristics.

  • Anything that exhibits all the characteristics is called an organism and is classified/categorized in the biological system by taxonomy. (scientific name, place in taxonomy comes from its attributes.


1 made up of cells

1. Made up of Cells

  • Small self contained units.

  • A collection of living matter enclosed by a membrane (barrier) that separates the inside of the cell from the surroundings.

  • Cells are alive they exhibit all characteristics of life.

  • Unicellular Organism- basic organism consisting of one cell. (bacteria, protists)

  • Multicellular Organism- complex oragnism consisting of many cells, those cell will usually have specialized functions. More diverse. (animals, plants)

  • Multicellular organisms can have thousands or even trillions of cells. Humans have over 85 different cell types!


2 reproduction

2. Reproduction

  • All organisms produce new organisms through reproduction

    • Sexual- cells from two different parents combine to create a new organism.

    • Asexual- new organism arises from a single parent.

      • Two ways- Selfing and Binary fission.

      • Selfing occurs when an adult grows the new organism off of its self (ex. Hydra)

      • Binary fission- the organism copies all of its parts and splits into two organisms.


3 based on genetic code

3. Based on Genetic Code

  • The genetic code carries instructions for producing and maintaining an organism.

  • It allows for continuity of life. Parents and offspring share the same or similar traits.

  • Dogs produce dogs not cats!

  • Traits are inherited from the parents to offspring.

  • The universal genetic code is carried in a molecule called a nucleic acid for all known life.

    • DNA- deoxyribonucleic acid

    • RNA viruses?? alive?


4 growth and development

4. Growth and Development

  • All living things grow for at least a portion of their lives.

    • Growth- size increase

  • All Multicellular organisms go through a process of development in addition of growth.

    • Development- increase in cell number, size, differentiations, changes in structure,

    • Ex. Butterfly, humans, plants.

    • Differentiation- cells specialize in their structure and function (ex. Muscle cells, brain cells, etc.)


5 need for materials and energy

5. Need for materials and Energy

  • Organisms must get energy and the building blocks of life for growth and development.

  • Organisms need building blocks of life and energy to maintain life.

  • All organisms take in selected materials from their surroundings.

  • They must be broken down into their basic building blocks and used to build molecules for the organism.

    • This process is called metabolism.

    • Producers use the sun as an energy source.

    • Consumers use other organisms as an energy source.


6 response to environment

6. Response to Environment

  • Stimulus Response- response to immediate changes

    • Examples : Plants bending toward sunlight, animals moving away from perceived danger

  • Adaptation Response- response to long-term changes

    • Change in fur color to match environment, switching to a new food source


7 maintaining internal balance

7. Maintaining Internal Balance

  • All living organisms, unicellular and multicellular are able to maintain an internal balance because they cell separates in internal from the external.

    • This balance is called Homeostasis.

    • Conditions in the internal environment remain stable even with the changing outside environment.

    • Often involves internal feedback mechanisms and external feedback mechanisms

    • Example: Need for water and thirst, increase in temperature and sweating.


8 change over time

8. Change over time

  • All living organisms as a whole population change over time based on their environment.

  • This process is called evolution.

  • It does not involve and organism changing from one to another.

  • It does involve an organism population changing in types, number, and ability of traits in the organism.

    • Example: Cave organisms

  • Every known organism has been observed to evolve over time.


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