What is meiosis?
Meiosis is a type of cell division used to create the gametes (sex cells) of sexually-reproducing organisms.
Cells in the testes and ovaries divide by meiosis to produce sperm and egg cells respectively.
Meiosis results in four daughter cells each containing only one set of chromosomes (haploid). Haploid cells do not have homologous chromosomes.
The halving of genetic material ensures that during fertilisation (fusion of gametes), a normal diploid cell with homologous chromosomes is formed.
If gametes were diploid, the amount of genetic material would double every generation. After just 10 generations, a human cell would carry over 10 000 chromosomes!
Meiosis allows for genetic recombination in offspring. Each haploid cell contains a unique combination of genes since genetic material is swapped between pairs of homologous chromosome.