Properties of Life


Propertiesof Life

Propertiesof Life

Tobe classified as a living thing, an organism should fulfill the nineproperties of life. These properties include:

Order:Thisis the arrangement of structures in relation to one another.Structures in living things are arranged in the most orderly mannercompared to the nonliving things. This orderliness allows them tofunction and sustains life. Disordering the structures can lead toloss of life or deformity.

Metabolism:Livingthings require energy for survival, growth, repair of tissues andproduction of new cells. They do this by obtaining energy from theenvironment, breaking it down through chemical processes, and usingit for the purposes outlined above. Metabolism also helps to maintainorder by reorganizing disorganized structures.

Motility:Anorganism uses its power to move (Postlethwait&amp Hpson, 2011).Animals display the most developed motility by literally moving fromone place to another on their limbs in search of food, evadingdanger, leisure, exercise, etc. Plants also exhibit subtle movementthrough growth, shifting together with sunlight, opening and closingof flowers, etc.

Responsiveness:Livingthings detect changes in their environment and respond to them. Theresponse can be instantaneous, like letting go of a hot object or theinstant folding of the venous fly trap when touched or gradual suchas the shifting of a houseplant’s leaves towards the light or theshedding of leaves during the dry season. All types of tropism(photo, thigmo, hydro, geo etc.) are examples of responsiveness inliving things.

Reproduction:All living things give rise to offsprings of the same kind, whethersexually (offspring of the same kind but not identical to parent) orasexually (identical to parent). This is the property that ensurescontinuity of life.

Development:Intheir young stages, living things are usually small and simple.However, with time, they grow and increase in complexity as theyreach maturity. This change in complexity is referred to asdevelopment.

Heredity:Livingthings transfer their genetic traits to their offsprings, who alsotransfer them to their offsprings in turn. This transfer of traits iscalled heredity and is the reason why offsprings are of the same kindas the parents. Identical twin is a typical illustration of heredity.The asexual reproduction of a microbe is another illustration of howtraits are passed from parent to offspring.

Evolution:Organismsundergo changes over time so as to fit and survive in a particularenvironment.Evolutioncould entail modifications in the genetic structures or organs so asto survive. By tracing the family trees, we realize that oldermembers of the family are a bit dissimilar with the current members.The differences between Ramapithecus and the present day human beingare more pronounced than those between Homosapiensand Homosapiens sapiens.

Adaptation:Thisproperty is closely related to evolution. Organisms possess specificstructures that make them suited to the environment and maintainrelationships with other organisms in the ecosystem (Alberts et al.,2013). If an organism does not have these structures orcharacteristics, they change and develop the traits else they dieand become extinct. As Charles Darwin put it, only the fittestsurvive. Hence, living things have to adapt to the environment so asto survive.

Viruses,prions, and viroids do reproduce and evolve, but they are notconsidered as living things. This is because they depend on the hostcell for their existence. Even though they exhibit traits ofreproduction, they do not reproduce by themselves they coerce theinfected cells to reproduce (Alberts et al., 2013). Concerning theirevolution, it is more or less the same as their reproduction style.They change rapidly, depending on the cells they invade. Their hosts’altered responses are the reason for their changes hence they do notevolve by themselves. In addition, prions have no DNA or RNA.


Alberts,B., Bray, D., Hopkin, K., Johnson, A., Lewis, J., Raff, M., … &ampWalter, P. (2013). Essential cell biology. Garland Science.

Black,S. (2013). The Nature of Living Things: An Essay in TheoreticalBiology. Butterworth- Heinemann.

Miller,G. T., &amp Spoolman, S. (2011). Living in the environment:principles, connections, and solutions. Nelson Education.Chicago

Postlethwait,J.H. &amp Hopson, J.L. (2011) Life. Student Edition. Brooks/Cole,Cengage Learning.

Starr,C., Taggart, R., Evers, C., &amp Starr, L. (2015). Biology: Theunity and diversity of life. Nelson Education.

Properties of Life

Propertiesof Life

Propertiesof Life

Followingcenturies of thought as well as study, biologists have eventuallyarrived at a consensus concerning an entity that is alive, nonliving,or formerly active. In their text entitled, “Life,”Postlethwait and Hopson (2011) argue that while it is possible tospot life’s features in action on the nonliving world, only theliving ones display all the properties of life at some point in thecourse of their life cycle or species history. The authors outlinenine properties of life that define the living organisms. The firstproperty is order or structural as well as behavioral complexity andregularity. The living organisms maintain order in their cells,organelles, as well as organs via metabolism, which form the secondproperty. Metabolism constitutes a series of chemical reactions bywhich the cells obtain and utilize energy, and this contributes torepair, growth, as well as survival processes. The third property ismotility. Living organisms are self-propelled and can move as a wholeor its parts. The types of movement displayed by living organisms aremeasurable as well as visible.

Thefourth property is responsiveness. Living organisms are known toperceive the surrounding as well as react to it. Reproduction formsthe other property of life of living organisms. There are severaltypes of reproduction including binary fission in prokaryotebacteria, mitosis in eukaryotic cells, and sexual reproduction inanimals. The sixth property is development defined as the orderedsequence of progressive alterations resulting in an individualgaining increased complexity. The seventh property is heredityregarded as the transmission of the genetic character from parents totheir offspring. Evolution, which is the ability of a given speciesto respond with alterations crossing generations to long-termalterations in the environment, forms another critical property oflife (Gerald &amp Gerald, 2015). Evolution involves alterations ingene frequencies in a given population over time. The last propertyof life is adaptation regarded as a particular structure or form ofconduct or physiological progression that makes a creature bettersuited to stay alive as well as reproduce in a specific surrounding.

Viruses,viroid, and prions are not considered alive because they lack most ofthe properties associated with the living organisms. A viruscomprises of the generic material, which can be either a DNA or RNA,and a coat composed of a protein and in some cases lipids that guardthe inner part (Rogers, 2011). Viruses have the ability to liveoutside of a host but can never reproduce without one. They are takento have originated from bacteria, started as small genetic materialpieces, or come up when proteins mixed with RNA/DNAs (Shors, 2013).


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Rogers,K. (2011). Bacteriaand Viruses.New York: The Rosen Publishing Group.

Postlethwait,J., &amp Hopson, J. (2011). Life.Belmont, MA: Cengage Learning.

Shors,T. (2013). Understandingviruses.Burlington, MA: Jones &amp Bartlett Publishers.