8 Pros and Cons of Multicellular Organisms

When it comes to life, being a multicellular organism has its advantages when compared with being a unicellular organism. Of course, you can’t have advantages without there being disadvantages to a problem and this article aims to touch on both the pro’s and con’s of multicellular organisms and help give a better understanding of the subject. To start off, let’s begin with the pros.

List of Pros of Multicellular Organisms.

1. Intelligence and Evolution.
There are 2 types of cellular organisms that exist with these being unicellular and multicellular. Being multicellular allows an organism to develop a higher level of adaptation to its surroundings. This is known as cell complexity and can lead to an organism becoming more intelligent via contact with its surroundings. When talking about evolution, this is where multicellular organisms have the advantage as the many types of cells contained in a complex cellular organism enable it to adapt, change and survive.

2. Bigger Is Better.
Being multicellular (an organism that has complex cells) means that it must have size. Being larger has it benefits as it can minimize the risk of becoming prey. In the confusing world of the food chain, it is a given that the larger the organism, the better its chances are of reaching sexual maturity and reproducing. Being small can have its advantages too though, such as less adaptation needed to survive in extreme temperatures. One part of the body that can lead to success with reaching maturity is the brain, and in humans having a large brain has not only helped us thrive but to become leaders in the world of life.

3. Less Stress Equals A Longer Lifespan.
Having a complex cell structure means that an organism will have multiple cells that perform many different functions. Having multiple cell structures can help an organism develop strength and intelligence. This means that a single cell does not need to perform all of the functions required to survive and instead works in harmony with millions of other cells with each taking on its own unique role. How is this a good thing? Well, it leads to less work for the cells which means that they can have a longer lifespan and much less stress.

4. Cells Can Take Care Of Each Other.
Production and repair of damaged cells in a multicellular organism are achieved by employing other cell types that act as worker cells. Basically, these worker cells are the ones that enable the healing of wounds, the regrowth of limbs and body parts and the repair to cellular damage from toxins and bacteria attacking the system.

List of Cons of Multicellular Organisms.

1. More Energy Is Needed For Normal Functioning.
When compared to a unicellular organism which consists of a single cell, multicellular organisms require more energy to feed to multiple cells. The amount of energy required will vary from cell type to cell type, though cells that have a high energy expenditure will require constant feeding to maintain correct functions.

The increased energy consumption also leads to an increase of waste created. This waste can at times be difficult to eliminate and can cause toxicity to the organism. When an organism required constant nutrition to function correctly it will need to expend further energy in the search for food sources.

2. Infection Becomes A Possibility When Multicellular.
When you are a unicellular organism, infection becomes impossible as being a single-celled organism means that there is nothing smaller to cause infection. For multicellular organisms, infection becomes a real risk from unicellular organisms that take advantage of larger organisms.

Many bacteria and viruses are single-celled and this is why they find it easy to enter more complex organisms and use them for food, energy and as a place to live. Basically, the more complex and significant the cells of an organism are, the more likely they are to be attacked by pathogens, viruses and bacteria that can lead to their destruction.

3. Takes Longer To Reach Maturity And To Breed.
Having a complex cellular make-up means that it takes longer for the complex parts of the organism to develop to maturity. A unicellular organism has only one cell and reproduction can be performed much quicker. Not only does maturity take longer to happen, but also the development of ‘babies’ of complex organisms takes longer due to a more complex genetic makeup.

4. If One Cell Group Fails, They Can All Fail.
Think of the human body. We are made from a complex cell structure. The heart, brains, lungs, skin, bones … these are all made from multicellular groupings. The problem with this is that they rely on each other to perform certain tasks to help with survival, and if one happens to fail, for example, the heart, then this can lead to the death of all of the cells throughout the body.

So now it is clear to see that there are definite and distinct advantages and disadvantages of multicellular organisms.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.