Sexual Reproduction: Inheriting Genes from Each Parent

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  • 0:02 Sexual Reproduction
  • 1:20 Gametes & Fertilization
  • 2:19 Meiosis
  • 2:48 Types of Fertilization
  • 3:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Organisms reproduce in order to make offspring. With sexual reproduction the offspring get a combination of the genetic material from two parents. Learn how the male and female reproductive cells, called gametes, come together during fertilization.

Sexual Reproduction

All living things, whether it's a one-celled amoeba or a trillion-celled puppy, want to reproduce. Reproduction is the process of making offspring. If organisms didn't reproduce, there would be no baby organisms and entire species would be lost. Some organisms can multiply through asexual reproduction. That's a type of reproduction that requires only one parent. We see this ability in one-celled organisms, like amoebas, as well as some plants and lesser species of animals. When organisms reproduce asexually, Junior looks just like his parent; in fact, he is genetically identical to his parent.

More complex organisms, like puppies, produce offspring through sexual reproduction. This is a type of reproduction that requires two parents. Junior gets a mix of genes from mom and dad, so with sexual reproduction we see that offspring are genetically unique. If we look at this family of dogs, we see that mom has brown ears and dad has white ears. Junior is born with one brown and one white ear. He looks like mom and dad in many ways, but he is not identical to either.

Gametes & Fertilization

In sexual reproduction, male and female reproductive cells come together. These cells are called gametes, but you might know them as sperm and egg. Each gamete contains half the number of chromosomes, or genetic material, of the organism. So, each sperm contains 50% of the father's genes and each egg contains 50% of the mother's genes. This makes gametes different from other cells in the body. A basic human body cell contains 46 chromosomes, but the egg and sperm only contain half that number, or 23 chromosomes. Why? Well, when an egg and a sperm come together, which is a process called fertilization, they contribute 23 chromosomes each. Add 23 and 23 together, and you get one happy 46-chromosome-containing fertilized egg that can now develop into a new human.


Gametes are produced by a type of cell division known as meiosis. It's meiosis that reduces the number of chromosomes in the cell down to 23. It's also meiosis that makes gametes genetically different from one another. After the cell division takes place, each sperm and each egg has its own unique genetic makeup. In other words, meiosis can be thanked for giving Junior his cute mismatched ears.

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