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Reproduction Study Guide

I. What is reproduction?

A. Reproduction is when living organisms (parents) make more organisms (offspring) that are
like themselves.

B. In order for reproduction to occur, genetic material must be passed from one or more
parents to the offspring.

C. Reproduction can be asexual or sexual.

1. Asexual reproduction involves one parent and produces offspring that are genetically
identical to the parent. Cell division is a form of asexual reproduction.

2. Sexual reproduction usually involves 2 parents and the offspring are different from
both parents (includes internal & external fertilization, hermaphrodism, conjugation).

II. Cellular Reproduction

A. As we already learned, cells are the basic units of structure and function in living things, so
reproduction must happen at the cellular level.

1. Cell Division: Cells usually reproduce asexually by splitting in half. This is generally
called mitosis.

2. Sex cell division: In sexual reproduction, a special kind of cell division happens that
results in a sex cell having only ½ of the genetic material (23 chromosomes in humans)
needed by the offspring. This process is called meiosis. In fertilization, two of these cells
(one male and one female) join to make a single cell with a complete set of chromosomes
(46 in humans). This single cell then develops into a unique individual offspring.

B. Genetic material

1. A gene is a piece of information that determines the structure or function of a cell

(tissue, organ, etc.). Genes are what make individuals individual (your cells are different
from everyone else’s cells). Genes are what separate humans from one another (no two
humans are identical except identical twins/triplets etc.) and genes are what separate
humans from worms or dogs or chimpanzees or plants. Genes determine physical
characteristics (traits) that we can see, like hair color and the shape of your face and the
color of your skin (to an extent) as well as traits we can’t see, like genetic diseases or the
kinds of proteins produced in our bodies.

2. Genes are located on a molecule called DNA. DNA is part of our chromosomes.
Chromosomes are part of the nucleus of our cells. In talking about reproduction, we will
focus on the processes by cells make copies of their chromosomes (each of which
contains thousands of genes) and pass them on to their offspring. In the next unit on
heredity we will focus more on the genes.

III. Human Reproduction

A. Human cells have 46 chromosomes. Exactly half of those chromosomes (23) came from a
mother and the other half (23) came from a father.

B. In the process mentioned above where cells undergo a special kind of division (meiosis),
one of your fathers cells with 46 chromosomes divided to produce 4 sex cells with 23
chromosomes each. A similar event happened to your mother’s cells, and the result was an
egg with 23 chromosomes.

C. In fertilization, one of the father’s sex cells unites with one of the mother’s sex cells and the
result is a single cell with, again, 46 chromosomes. The combination of chromosomes (and
genes) in that newly formed cell is UNIQUE. After fertilization, the fertilized egg is a single
cell that reproduces asexually (by mitosis) and develops into a baby. All of the 50 – 75 trillion
adult cells are (usually) genetically identical (except for the sex cells).
D. Human Reproductive Systems


Structure Function

Ovaries (2) Primary female sex organs. Eggs (female sex cells) are produced here.

Fallopian tubes Connects ovaries to uterus. Fertilization can only happen in the fallopian tubes.

Uterus “Womb.” The uterus is where a fertilized egg attaches and develops into a baby.

Vagina Opening in female body where sperm are deposited, also “birth canal.”

Cervix An opening to the uterus.

Egg Path: Ovary  Fallopian Tube (fertilization)  Uterus (9 months)  Vagina (birth canal)


Structure Function

Testes (2) Primary male sex organs. Sperm (male sex cells) are produced and stored here.

Penis Delivers sperm (semen) inside female body where fertilization takes place.

Urethra Tube within the penis leads to the testes as well as the urinary bladder. Both
sperm and urine leave the male body through the urethra.

Other organs Several glands secrete fluids that are added to sperm to make semen.

Sperm Path: Testes  Urethra/Penis Vagina  Uterus Fallopian Tube (fertilization)

IV. Diagrams

A. Mitosis – process of cell division that produces 2 genetically identical cells from one cell. The
original cell is called the parent and the 2 “offspring” are called daughter cells. Note that the parent
becomes the daughters (the result is 2 cells, NOT 3).

(Parent cell)
46 chromosomes

(Daughter cells)
46 46
46 chromosomes

B. Meiosis – a special kind of cell division that produces genetically unique sex cells with half the
chromosomes of the original cell. (This diagram is simplified to avoid confusion).

(Parent cell)
46 chromosomes

46 46
(First division)
46 chromosomes

(Second division)
23 23 23 23 23 chromosomes
(Sex cells)

C. Fertilization – the union of a female and a male sex cell to produce a new cell with all the genetic
information necessary for the offspring.

(Female sex cell) 23 23

(Male sex cell)
23 chromosomes 23 chromosomes

(Fertilized egg)
46 46 chromosomes
This will now divide by mitosis and
develop into a unique individual