Meiosis is a special type of cell division necessary for sexual reproduction in eukaryotes. The cells produced by meiosis are gametes. In many organisms, including all animals and land plants (but not some other groups such as fungi), gametes are called sperm and egg cells.
Meiosis begins with one diploid cell containing 2 copies of each chromosome—one from the organism’s mother and one from its father. The cell then divides twice, producing up to four haploid cells containing one copy of each chromosome. In animals the haploid cell resulting from meiosis is a male or female gamete. Each of the resulting chromosomes in the gamete cells is a unique mixture of maternal and paternal DNA, resulting in offspring that are genetically distinct from either parent. This gives rise to genetic diversity in sexually reproducing populations.
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