MCAT Biology > Meiosis

Background

Meiosis - Complete Meiosis

Meiosis is the process by which sexual cells replicate, creating new, genetically diverse haploid (n) cells through each division. The process of meiosis is divided into two distinct phases, where upon 4 new cells are created from one original cell.

Interphase

Meiosis I

Prophase I

Meiosis - Prophase 1 Image

In prophase I, the chromatin condenses into chromosomes called tetrads. Next the spindle apparatus appears which provides structure to the cell during meiosis. After this, the nucleoli and the nuclear membrane disappears. Finally, the chromosomes mix and intertwine in synapsis where they may exchange DNA in a process called crossing over. This occurs at the chiasma

Metaphase I

Meiosis - Metaphase 1 Image

In metaphase I, the homologous pairs (tetrads) align at the metaphase plate where they attach to the spindle apparatus via the kinetochores.

Anaphase I

Meiosis - Anaphase 1 Image

During anaphase I, the homologous pairs separate by being pulled apart at opposite ends by the centrioles. Next, the mother and father chromosomes separation causes genetic variation through the process of disjunction. This follows in line with Mendel's Law of Independent Assortment, which creates a random genetic code based on alignment of chromosomes.

To learn more, click here to find out more about Mendel's Law of Independent Assortment.

Telophase I

Meiosis - Telophase 1

During telophase I, the cells split and create haploid (n = 23 chromosomes) cells which only have half of the normal genetic material. Each of these cells has 46 chromatids (2 per chromosomes) for a total of 23 chromosomes. After this, the nuclear membrane reforms and the cells divide via the process of cytokinesis.

Meiosis - First Meiotic Division

Meiosis II

Prophase II

Meiosis - Prophase 2

During prophase II the centrioles migrate to opposite poles and the spindle apparatus reforms.

Metaphase II

Meiosis - Metaphase 2

Metaphase II involves the chromosomes lining up along the metaphase plate to resume division. At this point the centromeres divide and separate the chromosomes.

Anaphase II

Meiosis - Anaphase 2

During anaphase II the sister chromatids are pulled to the opposite poles by the spindle fibers.

Telophase II

Meiosis - Telophase 2

During telophase II the cell divides once again and undergoes reductional division which creates four haploid cells (n) from the previous two diploid (2n) cells through cytokinesis.

Meiosis - Second Meiotic Division

Asexual vs. Sexual Reproduction

Feature Asexual Reproduction Sexual Reproduction
Parents Required One Parent Two Parents
Type of Replication Binary Fission, Budding, Regeneration, Parthenogenesis Meiosis
Occurs In Lower Organisms Invertebrates and Vertebrates
Genetic Variation Identical (only some mutations) Unique Genetic Material (Fundamental for Evolution)
Sex Cells Required or Formed? No Yes (Gametes)
Time Efficient Yes No
Energy Required Small Amount More Energy Required
Number of Offspring Produced 2+ 1+

MCAT Biology

Biology Topics