Morphogenesis is the biological process that causes an organism to develop its shape. It is one of three fundamental aspects of developmental biology along with the control of cell growth and cellular differentiation. The process controls the organized spatial distribution of cells during the embryonic development of an organism. Morphogenesis can take place also in a mature organism, in cell culture or inside tumor cell masses.
Morphogenesis also describes the development of unicellular life forms that do not have an embryonic stage in their life cycle, or describes the evolution of a body structure within a taxonomic group. Morphogenetic responses may be induced in organisms by hormones, by environmental chemicals ranging from substances produced by other organisms to toxic chemicals or radionuclides released as pollutants, and other plants, or by mechanical stresses induced by spatial patterning of the cells.
The term Morphogenesis is derived from the ancient Greek words morphê (μορφή) meaning "shape" or "form", and genesis (γένεσις) meaning "creation", "origin", "source", or "birth" thus literally: "beginning of the shape".