What is the purpose of mitosis?

The cell is the fundamental functional unit that drives the biological activity of everything from bacteria and fungi to blue whales and towering redwoods. These dynamic, complex, but microscopic structures achieve the growth and regeneration of multicellular organisms through mitosis, a remarkable process that transforms a cell into two cells.

The correct definition

The fundamental purpose of mitosis depends on the meaning that you apply to this term. Mitosis is often widely discussed as a synonym for cell division. In this sense, mitosis is the process by which a cell reproduces itself to form a genetically identical “daughter cell.”

The more technically correct definition of mitosis is the process by which the nucleus replicates itself and divides itself into two nuclei with exact copies of genetic material.

A new core

Mitosis, according to the more precise definition, comprises four primary phases: prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase. The first three phases are mainly concerned with the separation and organization of chromosomes that were duplicated during the interphase, which precedes mitosis.

Chromosomes are long molecules that contain genetic information in the form of deoxyribonucleic acid, commonly known as DNA.

During telophase, a new nucleus forms around each set of chromosomes, resulting in two genetically identical nuclei. Mitosis first occurs in the process of cell division because the new cell cannot survive without a core that contains genetic information that is essential for the management of cellular functions.

One cell, two cells

Cell division begins with mitosis and ends with cytokinesis, wherein the cellular fluid, known as cytoplasm, splits to form two cells around the two nuclei formed during mitosis.

In animal cells, cytokinesis takes place as a narrowing procedure that eventually squeezes the single-parent cell into two compartments. In-plant cells, cytokinesis is accomplished by a cellular plate that forms along the center of the cell and is ultimately split into two cells.

No Nucleus, no mitosis

The precise definition of mitosis as a nuclear division rather than general cellular division helps to clarify an important point – mitosis only applies to eukaryotic cells. All cells fall into two broad categories: prokaryotic and eukaryotic. Bacteria and particular single-celled creatures known as archaea are prokaryotic cells, and organisms such as plants, animals, and fungi have eukaryotic cells.

One of the determining differences between these two types of cells in the presence of a core: eukaryotic cells have a different core, and prokaryotic cells do not. Consequently, mitosis cannot apply to prokaryotic cell division, which is instead referred to as binary cleavage.

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