When cells undergo meiosis, the main result is the creation of sex cells called gametes. Male organisms produce sperm via the process of meiosis, while female organisms produce ova cells. In some species, individuals possess the capability of producing both sperm and egg cells via meiosis.
Organisms grow and replace most of their cells through standard cell division. This process is called mitosis, and the resulting products are similar to the parents that created them. In mitosis, each daughter cell has a full DNA strand. By contrast, meiosis only serves to create sex cells. The primary difference between mitosis and meiosis is that in the latter, the daughter cells only have half as many chromosomes as the parent cells do.
The reason that cells engage in meiosis and produce sex cells with half of the DNA that their parents had is because this gives the offspring twice as much genetic diversity. When the sperm cell combines with the egg cell, the two DNA halves combine to form an entirely new DNA strand.
Meiosis occurs through a series of steps. The cells start the process in a state called prophase, which occurs before meiosis begins. They then progress into prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase and cytokinesis.