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Organism growth and the environment

Review your understanding of organism growth and the environment in this free article aligned to NGSS standards.

Key points:

  • An organism’s traits depend on both its genes and its environment.
  • Genes make up the hereditary material inside an organism’s cells. Genes provide information about an organism’s traits.
  • Genes can affect how an organism grows. For example, some dog breeds are large and others are small. Any influence of genes is called a genetic factor.
  • An organism’s environment is all the things the organism is exposed to as it lives and grows. These things include temperature, light, food, and water.
  • The environment also affects how an organism grows. For example, a plant will grow bigger if it is given fertilizer. Any influence of the environment is called an environmental factor.
Two dogs are shown standing in grass. One of the dogs is small with a black coat. The other dog is large with a light brown coat.
Different dog breeds. As a result of genetic differences between breeds, one dog is large and the other is small. Image credit: “Big and little dog 1 " by Ellen Levy Finch, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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