How Do Living Things Grow?

All living things grow by undergoing mitosis, which refers to the process wherein somatic cells divide to produce new cells. An adult human body has approximately 37 trillion cells that divide at a rate of nearly 2 trillion times per day.

Mitosis is one of two types of cell reproduction, also known as cell division. Mitosis is involved in growth and repair, while meiosis is involved in the reproductive process. The cells produced by mitosis, referred to as somatic cells, comprise the bulk of an organism.

Mitosis generates two daughter cells that are identical and contain an equal number of chromosomes as the parent cell. This process is divided into four major phases: prophase, metaphase, anaphase and telophase. During prophase, the DNA in the cell becomes tightly packed. A phase called prometaphase, links prophase and metaphase. In metaphase, the DNA's chromosomes align at the equator where they split and travel to the opposite poles of the cell in anaphase.

During the final phase of mitosis, the DNA decondenses to prepare for complete separation into two daughter cells in another process known as cytokinesis. The entire mitotic division repeats in a cycle to produce the numerous number of cells in living organisms, which drive growth and development. Specialized cells that perform a particular function group into tissues, specialized tissues group into organs, specialized organs comprise organ systems and organ systems make up a complete, complex living organism.