Developmental biology is at the core of organismal biology, since it is concerned with how the body patterns of multicellular organisms are designed and constructed. It deals with the process by which the genes in the fertilised egg control cell behavior in the embryo and so determine the nature of the animal or plant. This process converts one-dimensional information present in the genome into three-dimensional information expressed in the structure of the organism.
Whereas classical developmental biology has relied heavily on embryology and genetics, recent advances in the areas of cell biology, genomics, in vivo imaging, and computational biology have had a strong impact on the field, and are increasingly transforming developmental biology into a highly interdisciplinary field concerned with understanding the dynamic behavior of entire networks of genes, cells, and organs in developing plants and animals.
Since the structure and function of mature organisms can only be understood in light of their development, developmental biology is also concerned with how genes important for development have profound effects on the function of organs in the mature animal. This can be clearly seen in the case of genes important for development of the brain, which have profound effects on behavior.