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The Genetic Code: Influence of Mitosis, Meiosis & Crossing Over

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  • 0:07 Genetic Code
  • 1:23 Mitosis & Meiosis
  • 3:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Roundy

Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.

In this lesson, we will learn what the genetic code is and how it can be affected by mitosis, meiosis and crossing over. When mistakes are made and genes are altered, it can have a negative impact on human development.

Genetic Code

Imagine a secret agent who intercepts an encoded message. In order to understand this message, the agent must break the code and translate it into meaningful information. In many ways, this is similar to understanding the human genetic code.

The genetic code is a set of rules that maps different genes in reference to the proteins they produce. Our DNA can be broken down into different sections we call genes. These genes are the key to the genetic code. Each gene provides an instruction for making a unique type of protein.

If we imagine that a protein is like the letter we want to identify in our spy's encoded message, the gene would be the symbol that represents the letter. The genetic code would then provide the correct order of genes so that the entire message can be translated correctly. In other words, this code tells our secret agent what order to put the letters in after he has figured out which symbols represent which letters.

This is why it's important for the genetic code to be translated properly during cell division. If the code isn't translated properly, the proper message doesn't come across. Let's look at two types of cell division: mitosis and meiosis.

Mitosis and Meiosis

Mitosis is the process by which a single cell divides into two identical cells, each containing the same number of chromosomes and genetic content as the original cell. The original cell is called the parent cell. The two resulting cells are called daughter cells. This is how our body replaces or creates new cells. If a mistake is made during mitosis, the genetic code is altered. This can lead to problems, such as improper development of an embryo or the development of a tumor.

Meiosis is a type of cell division that produces the sex cells and reduces the original number of chromosomes in half. An important process that takes place during meiosis is crossing over, or recombination. When crossing over occurs, two chromosomes pair up and exchange segments of their genetic material. Meiosis forms the female egg cells and the male sperm cells. When a sperm fertilizes an egg during sexual reproduction, the end result is a new individual with a full set of chromosomes (half from the egg cell and half from the sperm cell).

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