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What is mitosis? How was mitosis discovered?

Mitosis is type of cell division, responsible for many of the A German biologist, Walter Flemming, first observed
body’s key functions. It allows one cell with 46 mitosis in 1878. Walter Flemming was observing
chromosomes to split into two genetically identical Salamander gills and fins when he saw cell’s nuclei
daughter cells with 46 chromosomes each. split in two and migrate away from each other to
form two new cells.
Why does mitosis occur?
Mitosis occurs whenever more cells are needed. It is
essential during growth, cell repair and asexual How does mitosis occur?
reproduction. It ensures that the species number of Mitosis happens through a series of discrete stages
chromosomes is maintained and that each daughter cell called Prophase, Metaphases, Anaphase and Telop
receives an identical combination of genes.

In our bodies we contain trillions of cells, all containing a

nucleus that stores our DNA. This DNA is organized into
In each cell, there are 46 chromosomes grouped into 23
pairs. One in each pair belong to our mother, the other
belongs to our father. The two chromosomes in a pair are
called homologous chromosomes.
Cells with all 46 chromosomes are called diploid cells while
cells containing 23 chromosomes only are called haploid
cells. Haploid cells are the sperm and egg cells in our
For 90% of their lives, cells are in a phase called interphase.
This stage is the stage between cell divisions where growth
and DNA duplication occurs as cells prepare themselves for
mitosis. During interphase, the long strings of DNA are
loosely coiled and are called chromatin. These strings are
very thin and not yet visible.
Before mitosis can occur, a little protein cylinder called
centrosome duplicates itself. The DNA begins to duplicate
itself as well, giving the cell two copies of every strand of
DNA. Now the cell is ready for the next phase

Chromatin threads condense and coil to produce thick
strands of DNA called chromosomes and they start moving
toward the opposite ends of the cell, as do the centrosomes.
The nuclear envelope disappears. The duplicated DNA
strands, chromatids, stay attached to the original DNA
strand. The centromere is a region on the chromosome
where the sister chromatids are attached. Each attached
chromosome is referred to as a sister chromatid.
As the chromosomes move, they leave behind a trail of
protein ropes called microtubules, running from one
centrosome to the other.

The chromosomes attach to the microtubules at their
centromeres and line up straight down the middle of the
The microtubules begin to pull apart, splitting the
chromosomes into their individual single chromosomes
and are dragged toward the opposite poles of the cell

Each of the new cell structures are reconstructed. A nucleus
is formed and chromosomes relax to form chromatin again.
A crease forms between the two new cells, marking the
beginning of the final split. The division between the two
new cells is called cleavage, and all that is left is to break
the two cells apart, which is done by Cytokinesis.
Cytokinesis is the cell movement by which two new nuclei
move apart from each other.
A little more on cytokinesis
Cytokinesis, also known as late telophase, is the part of the Points to remember
cell division process during which the cytoplasm of a single Prophase
cell divides into two daughter cells. Cytoplasmic division  Chromosomes condense
begins during or after the late stages of nuclear division in  Nuclear envelope disappears
mitosis and meiosis. If cytokinesis does not occur, cells  Centrosomes move to opposite poles
would have too many chromosomes, therefore would not
function properly because they would be too big. Metaphase
 Chromosomes line up in the equator of the

 Centromeres divide
 Chromosomes are pulled to opposite poles

 Chromosomes uncoil
 Nuclear envelope reappears
 Cytokinesis occurs