What is Mitosis?


Mitosis is a process of cell division that occurs in both plant and animal cells. It is a crucial mechanism for growth, development, and repair in multicellular organisms. During mitosis, a parent cell divides into two identical daughter cells, each with the same number of chromosomes as the parent cell.

Overview of Mitosis

Mitosis consists of several distinct phases: prophase, prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase. Each phase plays a crucial role in ensuring accurate and efficient cell division.


During prophase, the chromatin condenses into distinct chromosomes, and the nuclear envelope disintegrates. The centrosomes move to opposite poles of the cell, and spindle fibers begin to form.


Prometaphase is characterized by the complete disintegration of the nuclear envelope. The spindle fibers attach to the kinetochores, which are protein structures located at the centromere of each chromosome.


In metaphase, the chromosomes align along the equatorial plane of the cell. This alignment ensures that each daughter cell receives an equal number of chromosomes during division.


In anaphase, the sister chromatids separate and move towards opposite poles of the cell. This movement is facilitated by the shortening of the spindle fibers.


Telophase marks the final stage of mitosis. The chromosomes reach their respective poles, and the nuclear envelope reforms around each set of chromosomes. The cytoplasm begins to divide, leading to the formation of two distinct daughter cells.

Mitosis in Plant Cells

Although the overall process of mitosis is similar in both plant and animal cells, there are some key differences in the way plant cells undergo division.

Cell Wall Formation

Plant cells have a rigid cell wall surrounding their plasma membrane. During telophase, a new cell wall known as the cell plate forms between the two daughter nuclei. This cell plate eventually develops into a fully formed cell wall, separating the two daughter cells.

Centrosomes and Spindle Formation

While animal cells have centrioles, which play a role in spindle formation, plant cells lack centrioles. Instead, plant cells form a spindle using microtubules originating from the polar regions of the cell. The spindle fibers attach to the chromosomes during prometaphase to ensure their proper alignment.

Chloroplast and Mitochondrial Division

Plant cells possess chloroplasts, which are responsible for photosynthesis, and mitochondria, which are involved in cellular respiration. During mitosis in plant cells, these organelles also undergo division and are distributed equally between the daughter cells.

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Mitosis in Animal Cells

While plant and animal cells share many similarities during mitosis, there are some notable differences in the process of cell division in animal cells.


In animal cells, cytokinesis, the division of the cytoplasm, occurs through a process called cleavage. A contractile ring composed of actin and myosin filaments forms around the equatorial region of the cell, constricting and eventually separating the cytoplasm into two distinct daughter cells.

Centrioles and Spindle Formation

Animal cells typically possess a pair of centrioles located near the nucleus. These centrioles play a crucial role in spindle formation during mitosis. The centrioles migrate to opposite poles of the cell and organize the formation of the spindle fibers.

Flagella and Cilia

Some animal cells, such as sperm cells, possess flagella or cilia, which are specialized structures involved in cell movement. During mitosis, these structures are duplicated and distributed equally between the daughter cells.

FAQs about Mitosis

1. What is the purpose of mitosis?

Mitosis serves several important purposes, including growth, development, tissue repair, and asexual reproduction. It ensures that each daughter cell receives an accurate copy of the parent cell’s genetic material.

2. How does mitosis differ from meiosis?

Mitosis and meiosis are both processes of cell division, but they have different purposes and outcomes. Mitosis results in the formation of two genetically identical daughter cells, while meiosis leads to the production of four genetically diverse gametes.

3. Can mitosis occur in all cells?

No, mitosis does not occur in all cells. Some cells, such as neurons and muscle cells, remain in a non-dividing state called G0 phase and do not undergo mitosis.

4. What happens if mitosis goes wrong?

If mitosis goes wrong, it can lead to various abnormalities, including chromosome mutations, aneuploidy, and the formation of tumors. These abnormalities can have serious consequences for the organism, such as genetic disorders or the development of cancer.

5. Are there any variations of mitosis?

Yes, there are variations of mitosis, such as endomitosis and open mitosis. Endomitosis is a process in which the chromosomes replicate without subsequent cell division, leading to cells with multiple copies of chromosomes. Open mitosis refers to mitosis occurring in cells with nuclei that do not disintegrate during division.

6. Can mitosis occur in unicellular organisms?

Yes, mitosis can occur in unicellular organisms as a means of reproduction. In these organisms, mitosis results in the formation of two identical daughter cells, allowing for the population growth and survival of the organism.

7. Can mitosis be influenced by external factors?

Yes, mitosis can be influenced by various external factors, including environmental conditions, hormonal signals, and cell-to-cell communication. These factors can regulate the timing and frequency of mitotic divisions in different tissues and organisms.


Mitosis is a crucial process in both plant and animal cells, enabling growth, development, and tissue repair. Although the overall process is similar, there are notable differences in how plant and animal cells undergo mitosis. Understanding these differences can provide insights into the complexities of cellular division and its role in the functioning of multicellular organisms.

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