Cell division

Cell division is the process by which a parent cell divides into two or more daughter cells. Cell division usually occurs as part of a larger cell cycle. In eukaryotes, there are two distinct types of cell division: a vegetative division, whereby each daughter cell is genetically identical to the parent cell (mitosis) and a reproductive cell division, whereby the number of chromosomes in the daughter cells is reduced by half, to produce haploid gametes (meiosis). Meiosis results in four haploid daughter cells by undergoing one round of DNA replication followed by two divisions: homologous chromosomes are separated in the first division, and sister chromatids are separated in the second division. Both of these cell division cycles are used in sexually reproducing organisms at some point in their life cycle, and both are believed to be present in the last eukaryotic common ancestor. Prokaryotes also undergo a vegetative cell division known as binary fission, where their genetic material is segregated equally into two daughter cells. All cell divisions, regardless of organism, are preceded by a single round of DNA replication.