How Does Meiosis Lead to Increased Genetic Variation?

Meiosis leads to increased genetic variation by reshuffling genes and creating random genes. The variation produced by meiosis accounts for differences in closely related individuals, such as members of the same family, as well as genetic differences in people within larger populations. Some genetic differences appear in small deviations, such as slightly different shapes of noses and eyebrows, while others account for variations in skin color and body shape.

People inherit many of the same genes from their parents. These genes, called traits, produce identical features in parents, offspring and siblings. These characteristics give family members resemblance in certain ways, such as having the same hair color and nose shape. Traits refer to identical genes that pass through generations, giving immediate family members and extended family members distinct features.

Similarities and differences in genes occur during the process of reproduction. With the coupling of male and female sex cells, certain types of information pass along to offspring. The exchange of gamete cells carries over approximately 50 percent of identical genetic information from parents to adults. Chromosomes exchanged during this process line up in pre-determined arrangements. Sometimes breaks in patterns occur, however, which leads to a reorganization and gives rise to new genetic information. These novel patterns account for new traits that distinguish people from others.