Asexual Versus Sexual Reproduction

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  • 0:25 Asexual Reproduction
  • 1:20 Sexual Reproduction
  • 2:54 Meiosis
  • 4:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Greg Chin
Did you know that some organisms can reproduce without a mate? Check out this video lesson on asexual versus sexual reproduction to discover the different ways organisms can reproduce and the main differences between mitosis and meiosis.

Why Meiosis?

Mitosis gives organisms the ability to create new cells. In the case of many organisms, like us, it provides the opportunity to become multicellular. However, for other organisms, like yeast, mitosis is a means of reproduction.

Asexual Reproduction

If an organism uses mitosis as a means of reproduction, it is said to be reproducing asexually. Asexual reproduction is also known as vegetative reproduction. As we've seen, mitosis is designed to faithfully create two daughter cells with genomes that are identical to the mother cell. Each new cell is a clone of the original cell.

In asexual reproduction, cells divide by mitosis and result in two identical cells
Asexual Reproduction

Asexual reproduction is an effective strategy for many organisms. It is highly efficient because a mate is not required. And the cost to the parent in time and energy is low because there's no progeny to rear.

However, this strategy offers little, if any, opportunity for variation in the genetic makeup of asexually reproducing organisms. Since all of the individuals in a given population of asexually reproducing organisms are clones, they share the same weaknesses. Therefore, the entire population could perish if a major environmental change occurred.

Sexual Reproduction

An alternative strategy, known as sexual reproduction, offers an opportunity to introduce genetic variation into the population. During sexual reproduction, offspring are produced from the genetic material of two different individuals: the offspring's mother and father.

Each parent contributes half of the genetic material the offspring requires in the form of a gamete cell. Recall that a gamete is a specialized sex cell produced by each parent for sexual reproduction. The female provides an egg, which is fertilized by a male sperm cell. During fertilization, the haploid male and female gametes fuse to form a single diploid cell, which can then go on to produce the rest of the cells in a multicellular organism via mitosis.

However, where do all these gametes come from? Mitosis won't do us any good if we're starting with a diploid cell because mitosis will only allow us to make more diploid cells. And, the gametes have to be haploid because if we fuse diploid cells together, we'd end up with a cell with too many chromosomes. To solve this problem, sexually reproducing organisms have evolved a second specialized type of cell division known as meiosis.

Meiosis is a type of cell division that evolved in sexual reproduction to produce haploid cells
Meiosis Produces Gametes

Strategy for Meiosis

The purpose of meiosis is to produce cells with half of the normal genetic content found in the organism. Because meiosis and mitosis are both types of cell division, they share many similar structures and strategies.

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