Sexual reproduction is how most animals make their young, which involves a male and a female parent. Each of the offspring receive characteristics from the father and the mother. The offspring is not an exact copy of identical to either parent. The new offspring is unique.
However, asexual reproduction is different and requires only one parent and the offspring are identical to the parent. The parent cell makes more of itself by dividing itself into pieces or splitting parts of itself off and growing new pieces. Genes of the offspring will be the same as the parent, and except for rare mutations they are clones. There is no sex during asexual reproduction, and most of the reproduction takes place during a process called mitosis. Many plants also reproduce asexually.
There are several different types of asexual reproduction. Cell division occurs during a process called binary fission, when a single cell divides in two. This type of asexual reproduction is used by many different organisms, including bacteria and amoeba, which are both single-celled organisms. One bacterium becomes two bacteria, both exactly alike.
A second type of asexual reproduction is called fragmentation. Fragmentation is used by more complex organisms and occurs when a parent organism breaks into pieces or fragments, and then each piece develops into a new organism. An example is the starfish, which can develop from a single ray (arm) of the starfish. Starfish are unique that they can also reproduce sexually. There are also some worms that can reproduce this way as well. When the worm is cut into two pieces, both crawl away as two separate living worms with a life their own.
Another type of asexual reproduction is similar to binary fission and is called budding. Budding is used by plants and some animals which cannot split in half like bacteria. The bud remains attached to the parent cell during its growth and development. Once the bud develops fully, it breaks off, and starts to grow on its own becoming the same size as its parent. Both are then capable of budding again. Yeasts are examples of an organism that reproduce by budding.
Fungi producing spores is the final type of asexual reproduction, which also can be sexual. The asexual spores have the same genetic material as the parent and allows them to make a whole new organism. They are also produced by mitosis. Different kinds of fungi make different kind of asexual spores, and the shape and color of the spores help identify the fungus' species.
An advantage of asexual reproduction includes the quickly produced new offspring. For example, some bacteria can reproduce several times in an hour. In fact, in a perfect environment, a hundred bacteria can divide and produce millions of bacterial cells in just a few hours. However, most bacteria do not live in an ideal environment. A second advantage is no mate is needed. A disadvantage is the lack of variation in offspring as they will always look like the parent.
In summary, asexual reproduction involves only a single parent whereas sexual reproduction takes two parents. In asexual reproduction, new offspring can be produced in several different ways such as binary fission, fragmentation, budding, and through the spores of fungi. The offspring during asexual reproduction are identical to the parent and there is a lack of variation, which is a disadvantage of this type of reproduction.
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