Does a sex cell contain only one chromosome of each homologous pair of chromosomes that is present in a somatic cell?

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bandmanjoe | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Yes!  A sex cell, be it a sperm from a male or an egg from a female, has only one of each of the 23 homologous pairs of chromosomes in it's chromosomal makeup.  This is because it will combine with another sex cell from the opposite sex, combine it's 23 with that cell's 23, and together they will produce a fertilized egg, called a zygote, with the full count of 46 chromosomes.  This half count of chromosomes is referred to as a haploid number of chromosomes, meaning that cell has half the normal count.  The process that produces sex cells is called meiosis.  Meiosis is like mitosis, the process that reproduces all somatic cells, except that it halves the number of chromosomes, so each sperm or egg that is produced only receive 23 chromosomes, whereas somatic cells receive the full count, or 46 chromosomes.  This is why you have some of your father's physical features and some of your mother's physical features;  you got half your looks from one, the other half from the other.


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