Animal Asexual Reproduction

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  • 0:00 What Is Asexual Reproduction?
  • 1:23 Types of Asexual Reproduction
  • 4:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jeremy Battista

Jeremy has a master of science degree in education.

In school, everyone giggled when we learned about human reproduction because it involved a boy and a girl. We probably wouldn't hear the same laughter when talking about asexual reproduction. Keep reading to learn about this solo act.

What Is Asexual Reproduction?

Asexual reproduction is a method of reproducing without the need of a second parent. Essentially, one parent creates an exact duplicate of itself, meaning the offspring has only that parent's genes. This differs from sexual reproduction, in which male and female gametes (sex cells) fuse together to form a new individual that has genes from each parent.

Plants and some single-celled or lower-level organisms reproduce asexually. Animals also can reproduce in this manner, but despite the examples we were just looking at, we're talking about mostly simple organisms. Humans, for example, can't reproduce asexually. So don't think you can just create a copy of yourself; it won't work.

Asexual reproduction can be advantageous for organisms that don't have others of their type around. Without many mates, an organism might not be able to reproduce. And if it can't reproduce, it can't pass on its DNA and traits.

Asexual reproduction also can allow animals to colonize and take over an environment quickly and efficiently. Because asexual reproduction results in an exact copy of the parent, the best genes for the environment will successfully takeover and thrive.

Types of Asexual Reproduction

There are four main forms of asexual reproduction in animals: budding, fission, fragmentation, and parthenogenesis. Each form is similar in that one organism is able to create many more organisms without the need for a mate, but they differ in the mechanism by which they create those organisms. Let's examine each of these types of asexual reproduction in detail.

First, let's take a look at budding. Budding involves a bud, or small part, of the parent that begins to grow and eventually turns into its own organism. Certain cnidarians, including some corals, reproduce in this way. In these corals, a small lump forms that gets bigger and bigger until it eventually breaks off and becomes a complete organism. In some cases, the lumps don't even break off. Instead, they remain attached, getting larger and larger and creating colonies of coral.

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