How Meiosis Occurs in Germ Cells and Human Life Cycle

 Every living creature on earth begins as a single cell. That cell undergoes mitosis, dividing over and over again, with certain cells becoming specialized, until eventually. cell division begins with an existing cell. Instead, that first cell came about because of meiosis and fertilization. Let’s take a look at the details of meiosis,and how it differs from mitosis.

  First, understand that meiosis is another type of cell division, but it doesn’t produce two identical cells like mitosis does. Human cells have 46 Chromosomes, which are two of each of 23 types. Each pair of chromosomes of a particular type are called homologous, meaning they carry genes controlling the same characteristics. After mitosis occurs in somatic cells, which are most of the cells in your body, you end up with two new cells with identical copies of those 46 chromosomes. These are called diploid cells, represented by 2n, meaning they contain two sets of chromosomes.

 With meiosis, when one cell divides, the product is four haploid cells. These have 23 chromosomes each, or just a single set, represented by n, and these haploid cells are reproductive cells called gametes. These are the cells that transmit genetic information from one generation of an organism to the next. In humans, these gametes take the form of sperm and egg cells.

  As we said, these are haploid cells with 23 chromosomes, and when fertilization takes place, the sperm and egg merge, and a new cell is formed, complete with the full 46 chromosomes, which are a combination of genetic material from the mother and father. So while mitosis, a kind of asexual reproduction, just produces identical copies of an original cell, meiosis and subsequent fertilization comprise sexual reproduction, which produces new cells with a novel set of genes. This is how we get variation from generation to generation.

  All humans have a combination of the genetic material from their parents, so no child will be 100% identical to either one of them.

Meiosis is similar to mitosis in a lot of ways, we will first note that the main difference between these processes is that meiosis consists of two cell divisions rather than one. These are called meiosis one and meiosis two. In meiosis one, homologous chromosomes, one maternal and one paternal, duplicate and are separated during cell division to produce haploid cells with duplicated chromosomes. Then in meiosis two, these haploid cells divide again to produce four haploid daughter cells, each with just a single set of chromosomes.

Meiosis (I) :
  Meiosis one consists of : prophase (I),
metaphase (I),
anaphase (I), and
telophase (I)
followed by cytokinesis. In prophase one, each chromosome, already duplicated, exchanges information with the homologous
recombination. which is a process called crossing over.

What is crossing over ?
  This begins when certain proteins break apart the DNA of two non-sister chromatids at exactly the same location. Then during synapsis, a complex of proteins called the synaptonemal complex holds the homologous together and each broken end of DNA is joined to the corresponding section of DNA from the other chromatid. in this process the two chromosomes have essentially swapped a tiny section of DNA with one another.

The areas on the chromosome where crossing over occurs are called chiasmata, and there will be at least one instance of this per chromosome, resulting in what we call recombinant chromosomes. This is just a fancy way of saying that they carry genes from what were originally two completely different chromosomes. In this case, they carry genes from both the maternal and paternal chromosome.

Then the nucleus comes apart just like in mitosis,

  In prophase (I) the mitotic spindle forms, attaching to kinetochores at each centromere.
  In metaphase (I), chromosomes line up at the metaphase plate, and in random fashion. The maternal and paternal chromosomes for each homologous pair can be in either order.
  In anaphase (I), the homologous  separate and are pulled towards the poles by the spindle. Notice that both chromatids of each chromosome are pulled to one side or the other together, rather than being pulled apart at the centromere,l ike in mitosis.
  In telophase (I) the nuclear membrane reforms, cytokinesis occurs, and we get two haploid daughter cells.

Difference between Mitosis and Meiosis (I)

  So meiosis one differs from mitosis in that the sister chromatids of an individual chromosome are not getting pulled apart, it is a pair of homologous chromosomes that are getting pulled away from each other after having
exchanged some genetic material. This is why the daughter cells are haploid,because each of them has only half the genome, with only one chromosome from each pair of homologous.

Meiosis (II)
  In meiosis (II), again we have prophase (II),
metaphase (II),
anaphase (II),
telophase (II) and cytokinesis.
This part looks just like mitosis.

  In prophase (II), the spindle apparatus forms.
  In metaphase (II), the chromosomes align at the metaphase plate, but unlike mitosis, the sister chromatids are not all genetically identical, because of the crossing over that occurred in prophase one. Again, the spindle attaches to kinetochore that
   In anaphase (II), the sister chromatids are pulled apart towards the poles.
Then telophase (II) and cytokinesis occur,where nuclei form, and cells are left with four haploid cells, each with 23 unduplicated chromosomes.

Each of these four daughter cells is different from the parent cell, and they are all different from each other. In fact, due to all the different possibilities present for the assortment and distribution of the chromosomes, each haploid daughter cell, or gamete, represents one unique outcome out of millions of possible outcomes. This is the secret to biological variation that sexual reproduction offers, which gives rise to the wide variety of phenotypes in living organisms.

So the human life cycle begins with haploid cells, in this case a sperm and an egg. These specialized cells are products of meiosis, and contain just one set of 23 chromosomes each. When these fuse during fertilization, the product is a single diploid cell with both sets of chromosomes, one from each of the parents. From here, it is mitosis that leads to the development of a human being, which will then exhibit characteristics from both parents.

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