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Difference between Mitosis and Meiosis

Mitosis and meiosis are two types of cell division processes that play the most crucial role in
reproduction, and maintenance of the structural and functional integrity of tissues. Let us
understand the various aspects that distinguish these two processes from each other.
Cell theory states that each living organism is made up of one or more cells.
Each cell is a collection of organelles dispersed into a membrane bound cytoplasm.
It is the basic structural, functional and organizational unit of every living organism.
New cells arise from pre-existing cells through cell division.
The process of formation of new cells from the existing ones can occur through mitosis and
meiosis, depending on the cell type and the purpose of division. Given below is a short
description of the two processes followed by a detailed account of the differences between them.
Mitosis is an equational division that involves the duplication of genetic material, and an equal
distribution of all the contents into two daughter cells. The cell cycle proceeds via interphase,
which comprises the stages of growth and DNA duplication, followed by a mitotic (M) phase.
The mitotic phase proceeds through prophase, metaphase, anaphase and telophase. Through
these phases, the original nucleus dissolves; the replicated chromosomes align at the centre of the
cell, and then segregate into two new nuclei. Finally, the cell physically divides into two new
cells through cytokinesis.
Meiosis is a type of cellular division that results in the formation of four haploid cells from a
single diploid cell. During meiosis, the genetic material is replicated only once whereas the
nucleus divides twice resulting in ploidy reduction. This is achieved through two successive

divisions, meiosis I and meiosis II. The cell cycle events proceed through interphase I, meiosis I,
cytokinesis, meiosis II followed by another event of cytokinesis.
Interphase-I involves cell growth and chromosome replication. Meiosis I involves the pairing of
homologous chromosomes (synapsis), and their segregation. It is followed by cytokinesis
resulting into two haploid daughter cells, but with intact sister chromatids. These sister
chromatids separate during meiosis II, which is a division similar to mitosis. (In certain species,
meiosis II is preceded by an extremely short resting phase called interphase II.) The resultant
daughter cells are haploid, and contain a single set of chromosomes.
The most common error that occurs during cell division processes is nondisjunction, a failure in
the separation of homologous chromosomes (during meiosis I) or sister chromatids (during
meiosis II or mitosis). The resultant cells are aneuploid, and have an abnormal set of
chromosomes. The cells with an extra chromosome are termed trisomic, while the ones lacking
the corresponding chromosome are termed monosomic.
Mitotic Errors
Mitotic nondisjunction results in mosaicism, which is characterized by the presence of normal as
well as genetically abnormal cells. Nondisjunction during the first mitotic division of a zygote
leads to the formation of an abnormal embryo that has trisomy in half the cells and monosomy in
the remaining cells. When nondisjunction occurs during the later stages in embryo development,
the resultant embryo has a set of normal as well as aneuploid cells. The monosomic cell lines
resulting due to mitotic nondisjunction usually die out. Such errors in fully developed individuals
may lead to the development of tumors (cancers).

Meiotic Errors
Meiotic nondisjunction is a constitutive error, and is present in all the resulting cells of the
progeny. If such an error occurs during meiosis I, all the resultant gametes are abnormal. On the
other hand, if such an error occurs during meiosis II, two of the resultant gametes are normal,
one is trisomic, and one is monosomic. Such errors can lead to a failure in implantation of
embryos, early pregnancy loss, miscarriage or birth defects. Some examples of meiotic
nondisjunctions are Turner syndrome (monosomy X), triple X syndrome (trisomy X), Klinefelter
syndrome (XXY syndrome), Down syndrome (trisomy 21), Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18) and
Patau syndrome (trisomy 13), etc.
Mitosis is a process through which somatic cells divide to form new and exactly similar cells. On
the other hand, meiosis is a division that occurs during gametogenesis, and is essential for
introducing genetic variation. This provides an evolutionary advantage to the higher organisms.
Each of the two processes follows a unique set of events, and plays a major role in the survival of
an organism.