Morphology (biology)

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This article is about the term in biology. For other uses, see Morphology.
Morphology of a male Caprella mutica

Morphology is a branch of biology dealing with the study of the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features.[1]

This includes aspects of the outward appearance (shape, structure, colour, pattern,size), i.e., external morphology (eidonomy) as well as the form and structure of the internal parts like bones and organs, i.e., internal morphology or anatomy. This is in contrast to physiology, which deals primarily with function. Morphology is a branch of life science dealing with the study of gross structure of an organism or taxon and its component parts.

Etymology and term usage[edit]

The word "morphology" is from the Ancient Greek μορφή, morphé, meaning "form", and λόγος, lógos, meaning "word, study, research". The biological concept of morphology was developed by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1790) and independently by the German anatomist and physiologist Karl Friedrich Burdach (1800).

In English-speaking countries, the term "molecular morphology" has been used for some time for describing the structure of compound molecules, such as polymers [2] and RNA. The term "gross morphology" refers to the collective structures or an organism as a whole as a general description of the form and structure of an organism, taking into account all of its structures without specifying an individual structure.

Branches of morphology[edit]

  • Comparative Morphology is analysis of the patterns of the locus of structures within the body plan of an organism, and forms the basis of taxonomical categorization.
  • Functional Morphology is the study of the relationship between the structure and function of morphological features.
  • Experimental Morphology is the study of the effects of external factors upon the morphology of organisms under experimental conditions, such as the effect of genetic mutation.
  • "Anatomy" is a "branch of morphology that deals with the structure of organisms".[3]

Morphology and classification[edit]

Most taxa differ morphologically from other taxa. Typically, closely related taxa differ much less than more distantly related ones, but there are exceptions to this. Cryptic species are species which look very similar, or perhaps even outwardly identical, but are reproductively isolated. Conversely, sometimes unrelated taxa acquire a similar appearance as a result of convergent evolution or even mimicry. In addition, there can be morphological differences within a species, such as in Apoica flavissima where queens are significantly smaller than workers. A further problem with relying on morphological data is that what may appear, morphologically speaking, to be two distinct species, may in fact be shown by DNA analysis to be a single species. The significance of these differences can be examined through the use of allometric engineering in which one or both species are manipulated to phenocopy the other species.

3D cell morphology:classification[edit]

Invention and development of microscopy enable the observation of 3-D cell morphology with both high spatial and temporal resolution. The dynamic processes of these cell morphology which is controlled a complex system played an important role in varied important biological process, such as immune and invasive responses.[4] In order to extract these information, the data processing work is numerous, since we need to systematically and quantitatively analyze the 3-D cell morphology, which is challenging for multi-signal processing. Existing computational imaging methods are rather limited in analyzing and tracking such time-lapse datasets, and manual analysis is unreasonably time-consuming and subject to observer variances. One of these challenges is how to do classify different cells after simplified representations of the raw data from 3-D signals by using shape extraction and description, since we need to know the relationship between the number patterns and the function which the multidimensional signal represents. Machine learning algorithm super fit these category since it will build a model which describe the properties of a given population of individuals, which will be finally able to characterize subgroups of individuals with similar properties, or to predict the properties of a new unknown (or simulated) individual.[5] We are going to discuss the supervised machine-learning techniques for processing the 3-D signals, which requires that a subset of the data in each subpopulations be manually annotated to classify the rest of the data set. There are basically three main approaches. 1.K-nearest Neighbors methods. Basic principle of it is shown in figure. Suppose we have an pattern which locates at (x1,y1, z1), if Nk(x1, y1, z1) stands for the k nearest neighborhood samples, which defined by some metric, e.g., Euclidean distance or Hamming distance, then the decision rule to classify this pattern is defined by a majority vote on {Pi | (xi,yi,zi) ∈Nk(x,y,z) }. Specifically, in identification of cancer cell at different phase along the time, k=6 and a set of 35 subset features can generate best results. Also, certain constrains need to be applied in order to compensate the phase identification errors: a) The go-forward rule: Cell cycle progress can only go forward in the biologically cell phase sequence; b) The continuation rule: Cell cycle progress cannot skip a cell phase and enter the phase after; c) The phase-timing rule: The time period that a cell stays in a phase cannot be changed dramatically. Results of the k-nearest neighbors shows good accuracy. The k-nearest neighbor’s method is easy to realize and the cost of learning process is zero. However, when the cell type distribution is seriously skewed, this method is not suitable, since the weight will lean to the more distributed type instead of fairly treated each type. Also, this method will cost a lot of time when the dataset is very large. 2.Decision Trees. The decision tree adds candidate node for splitting by defining half planes P1 = {x | xj ≤ s} and P2 = {x | xj ≥ s}, in which xj is the splitting variable and s is the splitting point. At each candidate node, compute the impurity, e.g., the Gini index I = p-1 (1 - p-1) + p+1 (1 - p+1), in which pk is the fraction of class k observed at that node. The splitting nodes are selected to improve the homogeneity sequentially, and the decision at each leaf node is by majority vote.[6] This method is used to determine the relationship between gene expressions and image traits, and helps to find the modules of coregulated genes.[7] First, the gene expression of the image traits are obtained. Then the regression tree of the gene expression array is built by the decision nodes and leaf nodes. Each decision nodes contain two child nodes: upregulated or not. Thus, for a certain given array, we could find sets of arrays: those find the way down to the corresponding leaf. These response can be modeled as a normal distribution of the expression values of the module’s genes, and this distribution is encoded using a mean and variance stored at the corresponding leaf. Since the assumption is that the gene in each response set are tightlt coregulated, thus there will be small change for the distribution of gene in each response set, vice versa. Thus by applying iterative algorithm, we could find the best results, which have the smallest number of modules of genes that could be coregulated. The decision tree method could provide an efficient way for classification. However, this method is sometime unstable when perturbation is added, which mean unavailable for classification with high noise level. 3.Support Vector Machine(SVM). SVM method in principle is to find a hyperplane which is in higher or infinite dimensional space. The assumption is that the sets which are not linearly seperable may be mapped into a higher-dimensional space, which may make the separation easier. Thus the basic thing is how to find the hyperplane which satisify the condition which makes the largest separation of data. The SVM method is used to do the time-resolved phenotype annotation. They first use water shedsplit-and-merge to segment each cell. Then they use these segmentation, and the radial-based kernel and probability estimates to build the hyperplane and train these vector. By using these training vectors, they could predict the annotation of the cell, which corresponds with the human results very well. The advantages of this method is that it is very efficient and the design of the kernel provide volatility of this method. However, this kind of kernel fitting will be very sensitive to over fitting the model selection criterion.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Morphology". Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  2. ^ "Polymer Morphology". Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  3. ^ "Anatomy – Definition of anatomy by Merriam-Webster". 
  4. ^ A. D. Doyle, R. J. Petrie, M. L. Kutys, and K. M. Yamada, “Dimensions in cell migration,” Curr. Opin. Cell Biol., vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 642–649, 2013
  5. ^ Dufour, Alexandre Cecilien, et al. "Signal Processing Challenges in Quantitative 3-D Cell Morphology: More than meets the eye." Signal Processing Magazine, IEEE 32.1 (2015): 30-40.
  7. ^ E. Segal, C. B. Sirlin, C. Ooi, A. S. Adler, J. Gollub, X. Chen, B. K. Chan, G. R. Matcuk, C. T. Barry, H. Y. Chang, and M. D. Kuo, “Decoding global gene expression programs in liver cancer by noninvasive imaging,” Nat. Biotechnol., vol. 25, pp. 675–680, June 2007.
  8. ^ M. Held, M. H. A. Schmitz, B. Fischer, T. Walter, B. Neumann, M. H. Olma, M. Peter, J. Ellenberg, and D. W. Gerlich, “CellCognition: Time-resolved phenotype annotation in high-throughput live cell imaging,” Nat. Methods, vol. 7, no. 9, pp. 747–754, 2010.