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MEIOSIS

Meiosis involves two divisions of the cell. These two divisions are termed meiosis I and meiosis II. As
with mitosis, the cell is said to be in interphase when it is not dividing. During interphase the DNA
content of the cell doubles and new cell organelles are formed.

MEIOSIS I

Prophase I
* The chromosomes condense and are seen to have split into two chromatids.
* As in prophase of mitosis, the chromosomes shorten and thicken by coiling.
* One of the most important features of prophase I of meiosis is that the paternal and maternal
chromosomes come together in homologous pairs.
* This pairing of the chromosomes is called synapsis.
Each homologous pair of chromosomes is called a bivalent.
So a bivalent consists of four strands : two chromosomes each splitting into two chromatids.
* As the chromosomes pair up, they shorten and twist around each other. This causes a tension, and
sections of chromatid may break off and exchange with corresponding sections of a different chromatid.
The points where this exchange of chromatid material occurs are called chiasmata (sing. chiasma). This
swapping of chromatid material is called crossing-over.
* Towards the end of prophase I, the nucleolus disappears and the nuclear envelope breaks down.

Prophase I is the longest and most complex stage in meiosis.


The key events are:
* the pairing of homologous chromosomes (bivalents)
* the exchange of chromatid material at chiasmata (crossing over)

Metaphase I
* At the start of metaphase I, the spindle will have formed.
* As in mitosis, the chromosomes assemble on the equator of the spindle.

How does the arrangement of chromosomes differ from that at metaphase of mitosis?
The key difference in meiosis metaphase I is that the chromosomes are joined in homologous pairs
(bivalents).
Anaphase I
* At anaphase I the chromosomes in each bivalent separate. (In mitosis, the chromatids separate)
* As a result of anaphase I, each pole receives only one of each homologous pair of chromosomes.
* As in mitosis, the contraction of the spindle fibres pulls the homologous chromosomes apart.
Each pole receives a haploid number of chromosomes.

Telophase I
* The chromosomes reach the opposite poles of the spindle.
* The nuclear envelope forms around each group of haploid chromosomes.
* Usually the chromosomes stay in their condensed form and meiosis II follows on straight away.
* Cytokinesis occurs to produce two haploid cells.

What has happened to the number of chromosomes in each cell at the end of meiosis I?

Meiosis II

Prophase II
* The new spindle fibres develop at right angles to the old spindle.

Metaphase II
* The separate chromosomes arrange themselves on the equator of the spindle.
* Each chromosome attaches to a spindle fibre by means of its centromere.

How is this different from the arrangement of chromosomes at metaphase I of meiosis?


Anaphase II
* The centromeres divide.
* The spindle fibres contract to pull the two chromatids to the poles, centromere first.

How is this different from the events that take place at anaphase I of meiosis?

Telophase II
* On reaching the poles, the chromatids lengthen and become indistinct.
* The spindle disappears and nuclear envelope reforms.
* Cytokinesis takes place, resulting in four haploid cells, each with a different genetic make-up.