What is the difference between meiosis and mitosis?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In mitotic cell division, a diploid cell gives rise to two daughter cells, genetically identical to the parent cell with the exact same number of chromosomes. This is accomplished because DNA, the material in the chromosomes is replicated before mitotic division occurs. After going through many steps, the cell ultimately pinches into two smaller daughter cells, each with the same number of chromosomes as the parent cell. This process is used by protists and bacteria, yeasts, mold and other organisms that reproduce asexually to produce offspring. Mitosis is how our bodies make new cells when growth occurs or to repair worn out cells. Meiosis, on the other hand is a reduction division. In this process, a diploid cell in a gonad (testes or ovary) undergoes a special type of cell division resulting in four haploid gametes or sex cells. In meiosis, replication of the chromosomes occurs. After many steps and two rounds of cell division, the end result is the production of gametes, sperms or eggs with half the chromosomes of the original cell that underwent meiosis. Essentially, meiosis makes sex cells in sexually reproducing organisms with half the chromosomes of that species. By uniting a sperm cell with an egg cell, the diploid condition is restored through the process of fertilization.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team