How does independent assortment and crossing over result in genetic diversity?

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When two or more characteristics are inherited, the separation of one homologue does not affect the separation of another homologue into the gametes (sperm and eggs) that are produced during meiosis. This phenomenon is called independent assortment. Genetic variation results from independent assortment because it results in the shuffling of chromosomes into various gametes.

Crossing over occurs when homologous chromosomes exchange genetic information. Thus, chromosomes are formed that contain genes from both parents. These are referred to as recombinants. This occurs during prophase of meiosis I. Again, the result is a shuffling of genetic material. Thus, genetic variation increases.

A third way in which genetic variation increases is through random fertilization. Random fertilization refers to the probability that any one sperm can fertilize the egg.

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