Compare mitosis with meiosis

This follows the introduction to cell division and the pages about mitosis (see summary in the diagram on the right) and meiosis.

Mitosis and meiosis are two types of cell division, both of which occur in humans.

  • Cell division by mitosis occurs when somatic cells* divide.
  • Cell division by meiosis only happens during the final stages of cell division during sexual reproduction
    (in humans and other species that reproduce by sexual rather than asexual reproduction).

The similarity between mitosis and meiosis is that they are both types of cell division so the result of both of these processes is the production of at least one, often two, new cells.

Differences between mitosis and meiosis



  1. Happens during cell division of somatic cells.
  1. Happens in the latter stages of
    cell division that produces gametes.

Gametes are cells that fuse together during sexual reproduction, the two types being ova from females and sperm from males.

  1. A complete set of chromosomes is passed to each and every daughter cell.
  1. Only half of the chromosomes are passed to the daughter cells.
  1. The chromosomes and genes in each daughter cell are identical.
  1. The homologous chromosomes and their genes in the newly formed cells are not identical. They vary due to the resulting ('child') cells receiving some characteristics from the male parent and some from the female parent.
  1. New organisms produced by mitosis via a process of asexual reproduction (e.g. some types of plants) all resemble each other and are called 'clones'.
  1. New organisms produced by meiosis via sexual reproduction are not exactly the same.
    Although some characteristics and traits can be observed to 'run in families', individual offspring also have differences from each other and differences from their parents (not just differences in gender but they could have different height, hair colour, eye colour, etc.).

Advanced Note:

* Somatic cells are any of the many different types of cells that form a living organism except:

  • gametes (i.e. eggs in females and sperm in males; in both cases these are cells that fuse with another cell during the fertilization stage of sexual reproduction)
  • germ cells (these are not present in plants; in animals germ cells are cells that eventually turn into gametes, including
    gametocytes. Male gametocytes are spermatocytes, female gametocytes are oocytes.)
  • undifferentiated stem cells (i.e. cells present in all multicellular organisms, incl. animals, plants, etc., that can divide via mitosis and undergo changes into a wide range of specific types of cells including e.g. germ cells, and can self-renew to produce more stem cells)

The above is technically detailed definition of somatic cells. For many introductory biology courses is is sufficient to know that meiosis occurs in the reproductive system and process of sexual reproduction while mitosis occurs in all the body's tissues e.g. muscle cells, nerve cells, skin cells, the cells of the digestive system, and so on.

The above simple notes about mitosis vs meiosis are suitable for some basic courses such as pre- GCSE Biology (UK).

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