Characteristics of living organisms

Living organisms have the following characteristics in common:

  • Movement - they can move and change their position.
  • Reproduction – they can make more of the same kind of organism as themselves.
  • Sensitivity – they can detect or sense stimuli and respond to them.
  • Growth - they can permanently increase their size or dry mass by increasing the number or size of their cells.
  • Respiration – they can create chemical reactions that break down nutrient molecules in living cells to release energy.
  • Excretion – they can excrete toxic materials, waste products of metabolism, and excess substances (note that excretion is not the same as egestion).
  • Nutrition - they can take in and absorb nutrients such as organic substances and mineral ions. These nutrients contain the raw materials or energy needed for growth and tissue repair.
The first letter of each of these characteristics makes up the acronym ‘MRS GREN’. This is a good way of remembering them.
Parents with baby son relaxing in living room
Living organisms can reproduce

Living organisms can also control their internal conditions, such as their temperature or water content.