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Difference Between Growth and Development in Biology

Main Difference

The main difference between the growth and the development in biology is that growth is the increase in the size of an organism while development is a process in which an organism develops from a single cell to a complex multicellular organism.

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Growth vs. Development

In biology, both growth and development are considered the same, but there are wide differences between them. Growth is an irreversible increase in size due to increase in number and size of cells of an organism with time. But, development is a process in which an organism changes itself from a single cell into a more complex multicellular organism. So, growth is a simple term, whereas development is a broad term. Growth is only concerned about the size of an organism while on the other hand, the development also deals with the organism’s structures, functions, and abilities, etc.

Comparison Chart

GrowthDevelopment
Growth is an irreversible increase in size due to increase in number and size of cells of an organism.Development is a process in which a specific organism changes itself from a single cell into a more complex multicellular organism.
Process
Growth is an irreversible process.Development is also an irreversible process.
Term
Growth is a simple term.Development is a broad term that also covers the growth.
Deals With
Growth only deals with the size of an organism.Development also deals with the organism’s structures, functions, and abilities along with its size.
Measurement
Growth can be measured in terms of its biomass, i.e., its organic matter.Development cannot be measured by measuring biomass.
Stages
Growth does not have any specific stages.The process of development is divided into specific stages.
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What is Growth?

Growth of an organism is an irreversible increase in its size due to the increase in its cell numbers and size by cell division and enlargement. A cell grows by mitotic cell division. The elasticity of the cell wall increases along with an increase in the water content and size of the vacuole. All organisms grow within a specific period of time.

Growth is slow in start but increases with time. But as the organism grows old, growth becomes negative. During old age, the replacement of the cells does not frequently occur, i.e., the cells start dying and decay. On the other hand, during puberty, humans undergo a rapid phase of growth. The genetic makeup of an organism also affects its growth.

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In humans, if the family line of a person is composed of tall people than most likely, he will also be tall. In the case of plants, water and light play the most important role in growth. Moreover, light and gravity also affect the direction of growth that is known as “tropism” and gravitropism. Growth can be measured easily in terms of its biomass, i.e., an organic matter of an organism.

What is Development?

In biology, development is related to the transformation of an organism. It is a process in which a specific organism converts itself from a single cell into a more complicated multicellular organism. An organism is made up of different important organ systems like the respiratory system, reproductive system, circulatory system, and digestive system, etc. All these systems are made up by the developmental process.

Development takes place in a specific period of time. It includes the process of differentiation. During this process, each cell differentiates to form a specialized system or part of the body. Every organism has its specific developmental stages like cleavage, blastula, morula, gastrula, and organogenesis, etc.

Moreover, some organisms also change into different forms after birth, i.e., Metamorphosis. It also has different stages like an egg to larva, larva to pupa and pupa to adult. For example, frog, that hatches as a tadpole and metamorphoses to an adult frog.

Key Differences

  1. Growth is an irreversible increase in size because of the increase in the number and size of cells of an organism. On the other side, development is a process in which a specific organism changes itself from a single cell into a more complex multicellular organism.
  2. Growth is a simple term; on the other hand; development is a broad term that also covers the growth.
  3. Growth only deals with the size of an organism. Conversely, the development also deals with the organism’s structures, functions, and abilities along with its size.
  4. Growth can be measured in terms of its biomass, i.e., its organic matter, excluding water content on the flip side, development cannot be measured by measuring biomass.
  5. Growth does not have any specific stages. On the other hand, the process of development is divided into specific stages.

Conclusion

From the above discussion, it is summarized that in biology, growth is a simple process in which organism increase in size by cell division and enlargement. On the other hand, development is the transformation of a single egg into a complicated multicellular organism by the process of differentiation.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White