Organisms That Reproduce Both Asexually & Sexually

Organisms That Reproduce Both Asexually & Sexually
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  • 0:04 Reproduction
  • 0:30 Two Types of Reproduction
  • 1:51 Using Both Types of…
  • 2:51 Examples
  • 4:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

Reproduction is how organisms pass on their genes. While some organisms reproduce only sexually or asexually, there are many that do both. This lesson will explore the benefits of this strategy and some examples of the organisms that employ it.

Reproduction

If you take a look around, you'll notice there are many kinds of living organisms. The many plants and animals in nature that look, sound, and act differently. But one thing they have in common is the need to reproduce, or create a new generation of offspring. Each plant and animal that you see has a specific life span; it can only live for so long. To pass on its genetic material, it creates new individuals through reproduction.

Two Types of Reproduction

Before we go any further, we need to understand the two types of reproduction that occur in living organisms. First is asexual reproduction, or reproduction without sex (a means without). In asexual reproduction, the offspring are genetically identical to the parent. There are many modes of asexual reproduction including budding (a new individual splits off from the parent), fission (the parent splits into two or more individuals), and fragmentation (a piece of the parent breaks off into several pieces and regenerates).

Asexual reproduction has great advantages for organisms that are immobile, or unable to move around. Plants and animals that are rooted to the ground aren't able to get up and find a partner to mate with, so being able to reproduce on their own is a great option!

The other type of reproduction is sexual reproduction, which is when new organisms are created through fertilization. Fertilization involves the fusion of two gametes, like when a human egg and sperm come together. Most animals reproduce through sexual reproduction because it increases genetic variation. If you contribute half of your genes and your partner contributes half of his or her genes, the genetic makeup of the new individual is far more diverse than if you were to produce a genetically identical offspring through asexual reproduction.

Using Both Types of Reproduction

While most organisms only reproduce through one method, some plants and animals can reproduce both ways. This might sound complicated, but there are some benefits to this adaptation.

One of the main upsides of sexual reproduction is that it creates a diverse gene pool. If the environment is unstable, this genetic diversity will allow more offspring to survive and reproduce than if the population had the same genetic makeup. But if the environment is stable, asexual reproduction might be more beneficial because it is safer to produce a greater number of individuals with the same genetic makeup.

For example, if the environment is very stable during one part of the year with plentiful food, water, and other resources, an organism might want to reproduce asexually to create a large, uniform population. But if later in the year conditions change and become harsh, the organism can switch to sexual reproduction to create a population that is more diverse and therefore, better able to withstand the varied conditions.

Examples

Let's take a look at some organisms that reproduce both sexually and asexually.

Fungi

Most fungi are able to reproduce asexually by producing spores, as well as sexually.

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