It is process in which a cell’s nucleus replicates and divides in preparation for division of the cell. Mitosis results in two cells that are genetically identical, a necessary condition for the normal functioning of virtually all cells. Mitosis is vital for growth; for repair and replacement of damaged or worn out cells; and for asexual reproduction, or reproduction without eggs and sperm.
Mitosis occurs in five steps: prophase, prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase .
The final phase of the cell cycle is known as cytokinesis. The timing of cytokinesis varies depending on the cell type. It can begin in anaphase and finish in telophase; or it can follow telophase. In cytokinesis, the cell’s cytoplasm separates in half, with each half containing one nucleus. Animals and plants accomplish cytokinesis in slightly different ways. In animals, the cell membrane pinches in, creating a cleavage furrow, until the mother cell is pinched in half. In plants, cellulose and other materials that make up the cell wall are transported to the midline of the cell and a new cell wall is constructed. The process of DNA replication, the precise alignment of the chromosomes in mitosis, and the successful separation of identical chromatids in anaphase results in two new cells that are genetically identical. The new cells enter interphase, and the cell cycle begins again.
Meiosis, process of cell division in which the cell’s genetic information, contained in chromosomes, is mixed and divided into sex cells with half the normal number of chromosomes. The sex cells can later combine to form offspring with the full number of chromosomes. The random sorting of chromosomes during meiosis assures that each new sex cell, and therefore each new offspring, has a unique genetic inheritance.
Meiosis differs from normal cell division, or mitosis, in that it involves two consecutive cell divisions instead of one and the genetic material contained in chromosomes is not copied during the second meiotic division. Whereas mitosis produces identical daughter cells, meiosis randomly mixes the chromosomes, resulting in unique combinations of chromosomes in each daughter cell.
Prior to meiosis, the corn cell undergoes Interphase, in which it synthesizes materials needed for cell growth and prepares for cell division. During this stage the cell’s genetic information, in the form of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), is replicated. Each of the two consecutive cell divisions consists of four stages: prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase.
Prophase I each long DNA strand wraps around proteins that in turn coil and condense to form a chromosome. Since the DNA was copied during interphase, each chromosome condenses to form two identical chromatids, joined at a centromere. A corn cell has 20 chromosomes at this stage, each with two identical chromatids, making a total of 40 chromatids.
Chromosomes exist in pairs; one is inherited from the mother (maternal) and one from the father (paternal). When the chromosomes duplicate, two maternal and two paternal chromatids are produced. These two pairs of chromatids gather together in groups of four called tetrads. Each corn cell contains 10 tetrads. While grouped together in tetrads, sections of the chromatids from the maternal pair may randomly exchange, or cross over, with sections of the paternal chromatid pair. Called genetic recombination, this process is the first of two ways that meiosis mixes genetic information during sexual reproduction.
Also in Prophase I, two structures called centrioles, both located on one side of the nucleus, separate and move toward opposite sides of the cell. As the centrioles move apart, they radiate thin hollow structures called spindle fibers. The membrane around the nucleus of the cell breaks down, marking the beginning of the next stage.
During metaphase I, the spindle fibers attach to the chromatids near the centrioles. The spindle fibers move the tetrads so that they line up in a plane halfway between two centrioles.
Anaphase I begins when the spindle fibers pull the tetrads apart, pulling the maternal and paternal chromosomes toward opposite sides of the cell. The first meiotic division concludes with Telophase I, when the two new groups of chromosomes reach opposite sides of the cell. A nuclear membrane may form around the two new groups of chromosomes and a division of cell cytoplasm forms two new daughter cells.