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6: Reproduction at the Cellular Level - Biology

6: Reproduction at the Cellular Level - Biology


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The continuity of life from one cell to another has its foundation in the reproduction of cells by way of the cell cycle. The cell cycle is an orderly sequence of events in the life of a cell from the division of a single parent cell to produce two new daughter cells, to the subsequent division of those daughter cells. The mechanisms involved in the cell cycle are highly conserved across eukaryotes. Organisms as diverse as protists, plants, and animals employ similar steps.

  • 6.1: The Genome
    Prokaryotes have a single loop chromosome, whereas eukaryotes have multiple, linear chromosomes surrounded by a nuclear membrane. Human somatic cells have 46 chromosomes consisting of two sets of 22 homologous chromosomes and a pair of nonhomologous sex chromosomes. This is the 2n, or diploid, state. Human gametes have 23 chromosomes or one complete set of chromosomes. This is the n, or haploid, state. Genes are segments of DNA that code for a specific protein or RNA molecule.
  • 6.2: The Cell Cycle
    The cell cycle is an orderly sequence of events. Cells on the path to cell division proceed through a series of precisely timed and carefully regulated stages. In eukaryotes, the cell cycle consists of a long preparatory period, called interphase. Interphase is divided into G1, S, and G2 phases. Mitosis consists of five stages: prophase, prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase. Mitosis is usually accompanied by cytokinesis.
  • 6.3: Cancer and the Cell Cycle
    Cancer is the result of unchecked cell division caused by a breakdown of the mechanisms regulating the cell cycle. The loss of control begins with a change in the DNA sequence of a gene that codes for one of the regulatory molecules. Faulty instructions lead to a protein that does not function as it should. Any disruption of the monitoring system can allow other mistakes to be passed on to the daughter cells. Each successive cell division will give rise to daughter cells with even more damage.
  • 6.4: Prokaryotic Cell Division
    In both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell division, the genomic DNA is replicated and each copy is allocated into a daughter cell. The cytoplasmic contents are also divided evenly to the new cells. However, there are many differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell division. Bacteria have a single, circular DNA chromosome and no nucleus. Therefore, mitosis is not necessary in bacterial cell division. Bacterial cytokinesis is directed by a ring composed of a protein called FtsZ.
  • 6.E: Reproduction at the Cellular Level (Exercises)

Thumbnail: An image of the 46 chromosomes making up the diploid genome of a human male. (Public Domain; HYanWong).


30 Chapter 6: Introduction to Reproduction at the Cellular Level

Figure 6.1 A sea urchin begins life as a single cell that (a) divides to form two cells, visible by scanning electron microscopy. After four rounds of cell division, (b) there are 16 cells, as seen in this SEM image. After many rounds of cell division, the individual develops into a complex, multicellular organism, as seen in this (c) mature sea urchin. (credit a: modification of work by Evelyn Spiegel, Louisa Howard credit b: modification of work by Evelyn Spiegel, Louisa Howard credit c: modification of work by Marco Busdraghi scale-bar data from Matt Russell)

The individual sexually reproducing organism—including humans—begins life as a fertilized egg, or zygote. Trillions of cell divisions subsequently occur in a controlled manner to produce a complex, multicellular human. In other words, that original single cell was the ancestor of every other cell in the body. Once a human individual is fully grown, cell reproduction is still necessary to repair or regenerate tissues. For example, new blood and skin cells are constantly being produced. All multicellular organisms use cell division for growth, and in most cases, the maintenance and repair of cells and tissues. Single-celled organisms use cell division as their method of reproduction.


Chapter 6: Introduction to Reproduction at the Cellular Level

Figure 6.1 A sea urchin begins life as a single cell that (a) divides to form two cells, visible by scanning electron microscopy. After four rounds of cell division, (b) there are 16 cells, as seen in this SEM image. After many rounds of cell division, the individual develops into a complex, multicellular organism, as seen in this (c) mature sea urchin. (credit a: modification of work by Evelyn Spiegel, Louisa Howard credit b: modification of work by Evelyn Spiegel, Louisa Howard credit c: modification of work by Marco Busdraghi scale-bar data from Matt Russell)

The individual sexually reproducing organism—including humans—begins life as a fertilized egg, or zygote. Trillions of cell divisions subsequently occur in a controlled manner to produce a complex, multicellular human. In other words, that original single cell was the ancestor of every other cell in the body. Once a human individual is fully grown, cell reproduction is still necessary to repair or regenerate tissues. For example, new blood and skin cells are constantly being produced. All multicellular organisms use cell division for growth, and in most cases, the maintenance and repair of cells and tissues. Single-celled organisms use cell division as their method of reproduction.


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