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Description of Meiosis
Meiosis is the type of cell division used to produce gametes (sperm and eggs). Meiosis assures that genetic
diversity is achieved during sexual reproduction. Meiosis consists of 2 cell divisions: Meiosis I and
Meiosis II. Meiosis starts with a diploid (2n) parent cell that divides to make 4 haploid (n) cells. In sexual
reproduction, haploid gametes from two different individuals combine to produce a diploid zygote. The
resulting offspring is genetically different from both parents.

Chromosome characteristics:
Haploid (n) = one set of chromosomes
Diploid (2n) = two sets of chromosomes
Eggs and sperm (gametes) are haploid
Diploid set for humans: 2n = 46

Interphase before Meiosis: During the interphase preceding meiosis, DNA replication takes place.

Meiosis I
Prophase I: Homologous
chromosomes pair up and form
tetrads. This pairing is known
as synapsis. While paired, the
homologous chromosomes
exchange genetic material in a
process called crossing
over. Crossing over contributes
to the genetic variation of sexual
reproduction. While all this is
occurring, the nuclear envelope
and nucleoli begin to
disappear. Spindle fibers attach
to the chromosomes and begin
moving them to the equatorial
Metaphase I: Homologous
chromosomes, in a pair-wise
fashion, have lined up on the
equatorial plate. One
homologue is positioned on each side of the equatorial plate. The orientation is random, which means that
there is a 50-50 chance for the daughter cells to get either the maternal or paternal homologue for each
chromosome. This is known as independent assortment.
Anaphase I: Chromosomes from each pair move to opposite poles of the cell. Each chromosome still
consists of two sister chromatids.
Telophase I: Nuclear envelopes may reform, or the cell may immediately start meiosis II. DNA
replication does NOT take place. There are now only a haploid number of chromosomes in each cell.
Summary of Meiosis I: Crossing over occurs between homologous chromosomes. Homologous
chromosomes separate from each other and 2 haploid cells are formed.
Meiosis II
Prophase I: Chromatin once again condenses into discrete chromosomes. The spindle apparatus forms.
Metaphase II: Chromosomes are lined up along the equatorial plate, similar to metaphase in mitosis. Due
to crossing over in meiosis I, the two sister chromatids of each chromosome are no longer genetically
identical. Microtubules from opposite poles attach to each sister chromatid of a chromosome.
Anaphase II: Sister chromatids separate and move toward opposite poles as individual chromosomes.
Telophase II: Chromosomes decondense and nuclear envelopes reform. Meiotic division has produced 4
daughter cells, each with a haploid set of chromosomes and each chromosome has only one
chromatid. Each of the 4 daughter cells is genetically distinct from each other and the parent cell.
Summary of Meiosis II: Sister chromatids separate from each other (similar to mitosis) and 4 haploid
gamete cells are formed.
Mitosis vs. Meiosis