A specialised form of nuclear division in which there two successive nuclear divisions (meiosis I and II) without any chromosome replication between them. Each division can be divided into 4 phases similar to those of mitosis pro, meta, ana and telophase). Meiosis reduces the starting number of 4n chromosomes in the parent cell to n in each of the 4 daughter cells. Each cell receives only one of each homologous chromosome pair, with the maternal and paternal chromosomes being distributed randomly between the cells. This is vital for the segregation of genes. During the prophase of meiosis I (classically divided into stages: Leptotene, Zygotene, Pachytene, Diplotene and Diakinesis), homologous chromosomes pair to form bivalents, thus allowing crossing over, the physical exchange of chromatid segments. This results in the recombination of genes. Meiosis occurs during the formation of gametes in animals, which are thus haploid and fertilization gives a diploid egg. In plants meiosis leads to the formation of the spore by the sporophyte generation.

(11 Mar 2008)

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