What occurs in meiosis but not mitosis?


Quick Answer

Meiosis involves two rounds of nuclear division with the daughter cells receiving half the genetic material of the parent, while mitosis involves one. This ensures greater genetic variation.

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Full Answer

Both meiosis and mitosis are methods of cell division, and both methods lead to the distribution of genetic material. However, meiosis involves the creation of four daughter cells, each with half the number of chromosomes as the parent. This differs from mitosis, which creates two daughter cells with identical chromosomes.

The reason for this difference is meiosis ultimately leads to sharing genetic material with cells from another organism. As gametes, or reproductive cells, the genetic material received from this exchange will complete the number of chromosomes required. Without the reduction in chromosome numbers, the offspring will have too many when reproduction occurs.

During division, meiosis creates different combinations of genetic material in each of the daughter cells. When compared to mitosis, gametes produced under meiosis will exhibit a range of variation. This also means the eventual offspring from these gametes will be markedly different from the parent.

Meiosis is important as it introduces genetic variation into a species. However, the process also carries the risk of mistakes - for instance, if the cells fail to divide chromosomes equally. Mitosis runs less risk of errors in division occurring as it involves making a replica of the parent cell. However, lack of genetic variation can leave a species more susceptible to disease.

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