Types of Cell Division

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  • 0:00 Why Cells Divide
  • 1:06 Mitosis
  • 1:48 Meiosis
  • 3:00 Binary Fission
  • 3:41 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dominic Corsini
How do cells divide? Do they all divide in the same manner? This lesson answers those questions through an investigation into the three types of cell division: mitosis, meiosis and binary fission.

Why Cells Divide

Early in your existence, immediately following conception, you were exactly one cell big. Think about that for a moment. One cell. That was you. Not the complex person you are today, who's made from billions of cells, but a much simpler version that was a single cell. This situation lasted for about 30 minutes before you split in half and became two cells.

This brief introduction leads us to the reason cells divide: to make more cells. Now, making more cells isn't as straightforward as it sounds. That's because the type of cell division that occurs is dependent on the type of cell being produced. This lesson focuses on three types of cell division, all of which are unique:

  • Mitosis - the process your body cells use to make exact replicas of themselves
  • Meiosis - creates sperm or egg cells
  • Binary fission - how single-celled organisms like bacteria copy themselves for reproduction

Now let's explore each process in greater detail.


Mitosis occurs throughout the majority of your body's cells, including skin, eyes, hair, and muscle cells. In fact the only cells that don't divide using mitosis are sperm and egg cells. Mitosis is important because it allows dead or damaged cells to be replaced without loss of form or function. Here is a visual representation of mitotic cell division:


Chromosomes are tightly coiled segments of DNA. In mitosis, they are replicated and then divided to produce cells identical to the original. The key to mitosis is the creation of these daughter cells, which are identical cells. Our next type of cell division will produce something entirely different.


Our second type of cell division is called meiosis. This division produces sperm or egg cells, not identical daughter cells as we saw in mitosis.

Cell division via meiosis: A-chromosomes replicate. B - Chromosomes move to new cells. C - replicated chromosomes are split.

This process starts in much the same manner as mitosis did. The chromosomes still replicate, however, they do not get pulled apart afterwards, but rather the replicated chromosomes exchange some genetic information. This is an important step, as it results in offspring being different from their parents.

Then each full chromosome moves into a new cell, and then they are split, as they would be during mitosis. Thus, the cells created during meiosis contain half as much genetic information as cells created during mitosis.

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