What is cell division?
Cell division also referred to as cell reproduction is the process in which a cell multiplies and duplicates its genetic materials. This process occurs when a parent cell needs to split into two daughter cells, in some cases more than two daughter cells can be produced. We have already explored the differences in prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells however division can occur differently for both of these types. For each of the three types of cell division there are multiple stages in splitting the genetic materials.
How do cells divide?
Cell division takes place in one of three processes. These are known as binary fusion, meiosis and mitosis. Some living organisms utilize both meiosis and mitosis for different types of cells. Cell division is driven by the genetic coding encrypted in the DNA of the organism and is essential for the continuation and evolution of species and genetic variation.
Binary fission is the process in which almost all prokaryotes use. The process of binary fusion functions as an asexual reproductive method for organisms such as bacteria or cyanobacteria. Literally this term means division in half and is used to clone pretty much the entire single celled organism.
Mitosis is a process of cell division for eukaryotes which produces two identical daughter cells. It begins by having chromosomes split in the cell nucleus into two identical diploid cells. This process is used primarily to replace cells that make up an organism for regenerative purposes as opposed to sexual reproduction.
Meiosis is the form of cell division that governs sexual reproduction in eukaryotes. This is done through spores in the fungi and plantae domain and gametes in animals and some plants. The process of meiosis does not reproduce two identical daughter cells but instead undergoes the recombination of chromosomes between two parent cells, typically derived from two individual organisms. This is the process in which genetic variation is born.
What is the purpose of cell division?
For unicellular organisms (single celled organisms) cell division is the process of reproduction for the colony. Organisms like bacteria reproduce asexually and therefore do not have the genetic variation that more complex organisms possess.
For more complex organisms cell division serves additional functions. Replacing cells is an essential part of growth and life in organisms. In humans for example, skin cells are constantly being replaced to allow our growth along with providing regeneration for damaged cells. Additionally reproduction is a process of cell division which mixes the chromosomes of two parent cells to produce a unique daughter cell with genetic variation.