• According to the cell theory, cells arise from preexisting cells. The process by which this occurs is called cell division.
  • Any sexually reproducing organism starts its life cycle from a single-celled zygote.
  • Cell division does not stop with the formation of the mature organism but continues throughout its life cycle. The stages through which a cell passes from one division to the next is called the cell cycle.
  • Cell cycle is divided into two phases called (i) Interphase – a period of preparation for cell division, and (ii) Mitosis (M phase) – the actual period of cell division.
  • Interphase is further subdivided into G1, S and G2.
  • G1 phase is the period when the cell grows and carries out normal metabolism. Most of the organelle duplication also occurs during this phase.
  • S phase marks the phase of DNA replication and chromosome duplication.
  • G2 phase is the period of cytoplasmic growth.
  • Mitosis is also divided into four stages namely prophase, metaphase, anaphase and telophase.
  • Chromosome condensation occurs during prophase. Simultaneously, the centrioles move to the opposite poles.
  • The nuclear envelope and the nucleolus disappear and the spindle fibres start appearing.
  • Metaphase is marked by the alignment of chromosomes at the equatorial plate.
  • During anaphase the centromeres divide and the chromatids start moving towards the two opposite poles. Once the chromatids reach the two poles, the chromosomal elongation starts, nucleolus and the nuclear membrane reappear. This stage is called the telophase.
  • Nuclear division is then followed by the cytoplasmic division and is called cytokinesis.
  • Mitosis thus, is the equational division in which the chromosome number of the parent is conserved in the daughter cell.
  • In contrast to mitosis, meiosis occurs in the diploid cells, which are destined to form gametes. It is called the reduction division since it reduces the chromosome number by half while making the gametes.
  • In sexual reproduction when the two gametes fuse the chromosome number is restored to the value in the parent.
  • Meiosis is divided into two phases – meiosis I and meiosis II.
  • In the first meiotic division the homologous chromosomes pair to form bivalents, and undergo crossing over.
  • Meiosis I has a long prophase, which is divided further into five phases. These are leptotene, zygotene, pachytene, diplotene and diakinesis.
  • During metaphase I the bivalents arrange on the equatorial plate. This is followed by anaphase I in which homologous chromosomes move to the opposite poles with both their chromatids.
  • Each pole receives half the chromosome number of the parent cell.
  • In telophase I, the nuclear membrane and nucleolus reappear. Meiosis II is similar to mitosis. During anaphase II the sister chromatids separate.
  • Thus at the end of meiosis four haploid cells are formed.

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