Glossary Term: Ontogeny

Ontogeny (also ontogenesis or morphogenesis) is the origin and the development of an organism – for example, from spore to sporocarp. It covers in essence, the study of an organism’s lifespan. The word “ontogeny” comes from the Greek ὄντος, ontos, present participle singular of εἶναι, “to be”; and from the suffix -geny, which expresses the concept of “mode of production”. In more general terms, ontogeny is defined as the history of structural change in a unity, which can be a cell, an organism, or a society of organisms, without the loss of the organization which allows that unity to exist. More recently, the term ontogeny has been used in cell biology to describe the development of various cell types within an organism. Ontogeny comprises a field of study in disciplines such as developmental biology, developmental psychology, developmental cognitive neuroscience, and developmental psychobiology. Within biology, ontogeny pertains to the developmental history of an organism within its own lifetime, as distinct from phylogeny, which refers to the evolutionary history of species. In practice, writers on evolution often speak of species as “developing” traits or characteristics. This can be misleading. While developmental (i.e., ontogenetic) processes can influence subsequent evolutionary (e.g., phylogenetic) processes (see evolutionary developmental biology), individual organisms develop (ontogeny), while species evolve (phylogeny).

Version: 1

Created: 2019-06-26 16:20:19 -05 (-0500)
Last modified: 2019-06-26 16:20:19 -05 (-0500)