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What is Cell Division?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Cell division is the process that cells go through in order to divide. Cells may divide for several reasons, and there are two types of cell division depending on the purpose. The cell division associated with sexual reproduction is one type, called meiosis. The other type, the cell division associated with growth and cell replacement or repair, is called mitosis. In both types of cell division, the nucleus splits and DNA is replicated.

The cell division called mitosis produces daughter cells that have all the genetic material of the parent cell — a complete set of chromosomes. However, chromosomes are not the only material that needs to be divided and transferred to the daughter cells: there are cytoplasm and the cell membrane to divide as well. Cytokinesis is the process of dividing the cytoplasm and the cell membrane, and this process may follow immediately after mitosis or occur separately, depending on the organism involved. Together, these two processes make up the mitotic phases of the cell cycle.

The phases of cell division are prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase, and these occur in both mitosis and meiosis. A fifth phases called prometaphase occurring between prophase and metaphase is designated by some, but not all sources. Interphase, which is not part of mitosis, is a preparatory stage during which the parent cell makes a copy of its genetic material so that each daughter cell can have a complete set. Therefore, mitosis is an ongoing and repetitive process, alternating with interphase.

Meiosis, on the other hand, reduces the number of chromosomes by half, so that, for example, human egg and sperm cells, called gametes, each have 23 chromosomes and can join to produce a zygote with 46. It has two division phases, whereas mitosis has only one. Meiosis in animals is called gametogenesis, specifically, spermatogenesis, producing sperm, in males and oogenesis, producing eggs or ova, in females. In the unfused state, the egg and sperm are called haploid cells — having only a single set of chromosomes, and they become diploid — having a pair of each type of chromosome — again when they unite during fertilization.

Meiosis specifically works to combine the genetic material of two individuals. When there is only one parent in the reproductive cycle — for example, in ferns, which reproduce through spore — the daughter cell must have the full genetic material — all the chromosomes — of the parent cell. Therefore, in the case of the creation of spore — sporogenesis — reproduction is accomplished without meiosis.

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Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth , Writer
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for The Health Board, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.

Discussion Comments

By anon996627 — On Sep 20, 2016

What are the conditions that apply for mitosis to take place.?

By anon356066 — On Nov 21, 2013

Mitosis is for the growth and repair of a human body.

By anon332478 — On Apr 29, 2013

Which energy works in cell division, and is it the same energy as in meiosis cell division?

By anon320413 — On Feb 17, 2013

Why is cell division so important?

By anon319641 — On Feb 14, 2013

The purpose of cell division is to make up all the organs' parts inside the baby's body.

By anon228852 — On Nov 10, 2011

how many cells can an adult man produce in a second?

By anon222236 — On Oct 15, 2011

What are the purposes of cell division?

By anon166929 — On Apr 10, 2011

why is cell division needed?

By anon156412 — On Feb 27, 2011

what are the seven reasons for cell division?

By anon137302 — On Dec 27, 2010

i am a student studying in grade 8 and i am having difficulty in answering the following question: why do cells have to divide after they reach a certain size? please answer this question for me.

By anon118521 — On Oct 14, 2010

What is the purpose of cell division in single celled organism?

By anon115073 — On Sep 30, 2010

what is needed for cell division?

By anon103652 — On Aug 13, 2010

so what part is it, when removed, the cell won't reproduce?

By anon90891 — On Jun 18, 2010

what is the purpose of each cell division? where does it take place?

By anon88846 — On Jun 07, 2010

i am in grade 8. can you please tell me the difference between fertilization and pollination?

By anon83668 — On May 12, 2010

so helpful! thank you so much!

By anon82454 — On May 06, 2010

how do these factors affect cell division: time of day; stress; inflammation.

By anon81983 — On May 04, 2010

how does it work?

By anon78981 — On Apr 20, 2010

what are the two major reasons for cell division?

By anon63709 — On Feb 03, 2010

why do cells undergo cell division? for what purpose?

By anon59813 — On Jan 10, 2010

what parts of the cell are important in cell reproduction?

By anon57279 — On Dec 21, 2009

what role does cell division have in healing the body?

By anon50934 — On Nov 02, 2009

why is cell division so important?

By anon47331 — On Oct 03, 2009

are all cells the same size?

By anon40027 — On Aug 05, 2009

why is each stage of the cell cycle a prerequisite to the other?

By anon178 — On Apr 17, 2007

what is the purpose of cell division?

Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth


Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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