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Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is the
biological process Biological processes are those processes that are vital for an organism In biology, an organism () is any life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are cla ...
by which new individual
organism In biology, an organism () is any life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are classified by taxonomy (biology), taxonomy into groups such as Multicellular o ...
s – "
offspring In biology, offspring are the young creation of living organisms, produced either by a Asexual reproduction, single organism or, in the case of sexual reproduction, two organisms. Collective offspring may be known as a brood or progeny in a more ...
" – are produced from their "parent" or parents. Reproduction is a fundamental feature of all known
life Life is a quality that distinguishes matter that has biological processes, such as Cell signaling, signaling and self-sustaining processes, from that which does not, and is defined by the capacity for Cell growth, growth, reaction to Stimu ...
; each individual organism exists as the result of reproduction. There are two forms of reproduction: asexual and sexual. In asexual reproduction, an organism can reproduce without the involvement of another organism. Asexual reproduction is not limited to single-celled organisms. The
cloning Cloning is the process of producing individual organisms with identical or virtually identical DNA, either by natural or artificial means. In nature, some organisms produce clones through asexual reproduction. In the field of biotechnology, cl ...
of an organism is a form of asexual reproduction. By asexual reproduction, an organism creates a genetically similar or identical copy of itself. The
evolution of sexual reproduction Sexual reproduction is an adaptive feature which is common to almost all multicellular organisms and various unicellular organisms, with some organisms being incapable of asexual reproduction. Currently the adaptive advantage of sexual reprodu ...
is a major puzzle for biologists. The two-fold cost of sexual reproduction is that only 50% of organisms reproduce and organisms only pass on 50% of their
gene In biology, the word gene (from , ; "...Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian inheritance#History, Mendelian units of heredity..." meaning ''generation'' or ''birth'' or ''gender'') can have several different meanin ...
s.
John Maynard Smith John Maynard Smith (6 January 1920 – 19 April 2004) was a British mathematical and theoretical biology, theoretical and mathematical evolutionary biologist and geneticist. Originally an aeronautical engineer during the Second World War, he ...
''The Evolution of Sex'' 1978.
Sexual reproduction typically requires the sexual interaction of two specialized reproductive cells, called
gamete A gamete (; , ultimately ) is a Ploidy#Haploid and monoploid, haploid cell that fuses with another haploid cell during fertilization in organisms that Sexual reproduction, reproduce sexually. Gametes are an organism's reproductive cells, also r ...
s, which contain half the number of
chromosome A chromosome is a long DNA molecule with part or all of the genetic material of an organism. In most chromosomes the very long thin DNA fibers are coated with packaging proteins; in eukaryotic cells the most important of these proteins are ...
s of normal cells and are created by
meiosis Meiosis (; , since it is a reductional division) is a special type of cell division of germ cells in sexually-reproducing organisms that produces the gametes, such as sperm or egg cells. It involves two rounds of division that ultimately ...
, with typically a male fertilizing a female of the same
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of Taxonomy (biology), classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of ...
to create a fertilized
zygote A zygote (, ) is a eukaryote, eukaryotic cell (biology), cell formed by a fertilization event between two gametes. The zygote's genome is a combination of the DNA in each gamete, and contains all of the genetic information of a new individual ...
. This produces offspring organisms whose genetic characteristics are derived from those of the two parental organisms.


Asexual

Asexual reproduction is a process by which organisms create genetically similar or identical copies of themselves without the contribution of genetic material from another organism.
Bacteria Bacteria (; singular: bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one biological cell. They constitute a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometre The micrometre (Amer ...
divide asexually via
binary fission Binary may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Binary number, a representation of numbers using only two digits (0 and 1) * Binary function, a function that takes two arguments * Binary operation, a mathematical operation that ta ...
;
virus A virus is a wikt:submicroscopic, submicroscopic infectious agent that replicates only inside the living Cell (biology), cells of an organism. Viruses infect all life forms, from animals and plants to microorganisms, including bacteria and ...
es take control of host cells to produce more viruses; Hydras (
invertebrate Invertebrates are a paraphyletic group of animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column (commonly known as a ''backbone'' or ''spine''), derived from the notochord. This is a grouping including all animals apart from the chordata, ...
s of the order ''Hydroidea'') and
yeast Yeasts are eukaryotic, single-celled microorganisms classified as members of the fungus kingdom (biology), kingdom. The first yeast originated hundreds of millions of years ago, and at least 1,500 species are currently recognized. They are est ...
s are able to reproduce by
budding Budding or blastogenesis is a type of asexual reproduction in which a new organism develops from an outgrowth or bud due to cell division at one particular site. For example, the small bulb-like projection coming out from the yeast cell is know ...
. These organisms often do not possess different sexes, and they are capable of "splitting" themselves into two or more copies of themselves. Most
plant Plants are predominantly Photosynthesis, photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things that were not animals, and included algae and fungi; however, all curr ...
s have the ability to reproduce asexually and the ant species
Mycocepurus smithii ''Mycocepurus smithii'' is a species of Fungus-growing ants, fungus-growing ant from Latin America. This species is widely distributed geographically and can be found from Mexico in the north to Argentina in the south, as well as on some Caribbe ...
is thought to reproduce entirely by asexual means. Some species that are capable of reproducing asexually, like hydra,
yeast Yeasts are eukaryotic, single-celled microorganisms classified as members of the fungus kingdom (biology), kingdom. The first yeast originated hundreds of millions of years ago, and at least 1,500 species are currently recognized. They are est ...
(See
Mating of yeast The yeast ''Saccharomyces cerevisiae ''Saccharomyces cerevisiae'' () (brewer's yeast or baker's yeast) is a species of yeast (single-celled fungus microorganisms). The species has been instrumental in winemaking, baking, and brewing since ancie ...
s) and
jellyfish Jellyfish and sea jellies are the informal common names given to the medusa-phase of certain gelatinous members of the subphylum Medusozoa, a major part of the phylum Cnidaria. Jellyfish are mainly free-swimming marine animals with umbrella- ...
, may also reproduce sexually. For instance, most plants are capable of
vegetative reproduction Vegetative reproduction (also known as vegetative propagation, vegetative multiplication or cloning) is any form of asexual reproduction Asexual reproduction is a type of reproduction that does not involve the fusion of gametes or chan ...
—reproduction without seeds or spores—but can also reproduce sexually. Likewise, bacteria may exchange genetic information by conjugation. Other ways of asexual reproduction include
parthenogenesis Parthenogenesis (; from the Greek grc, παρθένος, translit=parthénos, lit=virgin, label=none + grc, γένεσις, translit=génesis, lit=creation, label=none) is a natural form of asexual reproduction in which growth and development ...
, fragmentation and spore formation that involves only
mitosis In cell biology, mitosis () is a part of the cell cycle in which replicated chromosomes are separated into two new nuclei. Cell division by mitosis gives rise to genetically identical cells in which the total number of chromosomes is maintai ...
. Parthenogenesis is the growth and development of
embryo An embryo is an initial stage of development of a multicellular organism. In organisms that Sexual reproduction, reproduce sexually, embryonic development is the part of the life cycle that begins just after fertilization of the female egg cell ...
or
seed A seed is an Plant embryogenesis, embryonic plant enclosed in a testa (botany), protective outer covering, along with a food reserve. The formation of the seed is a part of the process of reproduction in seed plants, the spermatophytes, includ ...
without
fertilization Fertilisation or fertilization (see American and British English spelling differences#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization), spelling differences), also known as generative fertilisation, syngamy and impregnation, is the fusion of gametes to give ...
. Parthenogenesis occurs naturally in some species, including lower
plant Plants are predominantly Photosynthesis, photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things that were not animals, and included algae and fungi; however, all curr ...
s (where it is called
apomixis In botany, apomixis is asexual reproduction without fertilization. Its etymology is Greek for "away from" + "mixing". This definition notably does not mention meiosis. Thus "normal Plant reproduction#Asexual reproduction, asexual reproduction" o ...
),
invertebrate Invertebrates are a paraphyletic group of animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column (commonly known as a ''backbone'' or ''spine''), derived from the notochord. This is a grouping including all animals apart from the chordata, ...
s (e.g.
water flea The Diplostraca or Cladocera, commonly known as water fleas, are a superorder (biology), superorder of small crustaceans that feed on microscopic chunks of organic matter (excluding some predatory forms). Over 1000 species have been recognised s ...
s,
aphid Aphids are small sap-sucking insects and members of the Taxonomic rank, superfamily Aphidoidea. Common names include greenfly and blackfly, although individuals within a species can vary widely in color. The group includes the fluffy white Erio ...
s, some
bee Bees are winged insects closely related to wasp A wasp is any insect of the narrow-waisted suborder Apocrita of the order Hymenoptera which is neither a bee nor an ant; this excludes the broad-waisted sawflies (Symphyta), which lo ...
s and parasitic wasps), and
vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all animal Animals are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms in the biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals consume organic material, breathe oxygen, are able to move, can reproduce sexually ...
s (e.g. some
reptile Reptiles, as most commonly defined are the animals in the Class (biology), class Reptilia ( ), a paraphyletic grouping comprising all sauropsid, sauropsids except birds. Living reptiles comprise turtles, crocodilians, Squamata, squamates (lizar ...
s, some
fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with Digit (anatomy), digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and Chondrichthyes, cartilaginous and bony fish as we ...
, and very rarely, domestic
bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class (biology), class Aves (), characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the Oviparity, laying of Eggshell, hard-shelled eggs, a high Metabolism, metabolic rate, a fou ...
s).


Sexual

Sexual reproduction is a
biological process Biological processes are those processes that are vital for an organism In biology, an organism () is any life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are cla ...
that creates a new
organism In biology, an organism () is any life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are classified by taxonomy (biology), taxonomy into groups such as Multicellular o ...
by combining the genetic material of two organisms in a process that starts with
meiosis Meiosis (; , since it is a reductional division) is a special type of cell division of germ cells in sexually-reproducing organisms that produces the gametes, such as sperm or egg cells. It involves two rounds of division that ultimately ...
, a specialized type of
cell division Cell division is the process by which a parent cell (biology), cell divides into two daughter cells. Cell division usually occurs as part of a larger cell cycle in which the cell grows and replicates its chromosome(s) before dividing. In eukar ...
. Each of two parent organisms contributes half of the offspring's genetic makeup by creating
haploid Ploidy () is the number of complete sets of chromosomes in a cell (biology), cell, and hence the number of possible alleles for Autosome, autosomal and Pseudoautosomal region, pseudoautosomal genes. Sets of chromosomes refer to the number of mat ...
gametes A gamete (; , ultimately ) is a Ploidy#Haploid and monoploid, haploid cell that fuses with another haploid cell during fertilization in organisms that Sexual reproduction, reproduce sexually. Gametes are an organism's reproductive cells, also r ...
. Most organisms form two different types of gametes. In these ''anisogamous'' species, the two sexes are referred to as
male Male (Mars symbol, symbol: ♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete (sex cell) known as sperm, which fuses with the larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male organism cannot sexual reproduction, repro ...
(producing
sperm Sperm is the male reproductive Cell (biology), cell, or gamete, in anisogamous forms of sexual reproduction (forms in which there is a larger, female reproductive cell and a smaller, male one). Animals produce motile sperm with a tail known as ...
or microspores) and
female Female (Venus symbol, symbol: ♀) is the sex of an organism that produces the large non-motile ovum, ova (egg cells), the type of gamete (sex cell) that fuses with the Sperm, male gamete during sexual reproduction. A female has larger gamet ...
(producing ova or megaspores). In ''isogamous species'', the gametes are similar or identical in form ( isogametes), but may have separable properties and then may be given other different names (see
isogamy Isogamy is a form of sexual reproduction that involves Gamete, gametes of the same Morphology (biology), morphology (indistinguishable in shape and size), found in most Unicellular organism, unicellular eukaryotes. Because both gametes look alike ...
). Because both gametes look alike, they generally cannot be classified as
male Male (Mars symbol, symbol: ♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete (sex cell) known as sperm, which fuses with the larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male organism cannot sexual reproduction, repro ...
or
female Female (Venus symbol, symbol: ♀) is the sex of an organism that produces the large non-motile ovum, ova (egg cells), the type of gamete (sex cell) that fuses with the Sperm, male gamete during sexual reproduction. A female has larger gamet ...
. For example, in the green alga, ''Chlamydomonas reinhardtii'', there are so-called "plus" and "minus" gametes. A few types of organisms, such as many
fungi A fungus (plural, : fungi or funguses) is any member of the group of Eukaryote, eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and Mold (fungus), molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified ...
and the
ciliate The ciliates are a group of alveolates characterized by the presence of hair-like organelles called cilia, which are identical in structure to flagellum, eukaryotic flagella, but are in general shorter and present in much larger numbers, with a ...
''Paramecium aurelia'', have more than two "sexes", called
mating type Mating types are the microorganism equivalent to sexes in multicellular lifeforms and are thought to be the ancestor to distinct Sex, sexes. They also occur in macro-organisms such as fungi. Definition Mating types are the microorganism equivalent ...
s. Most
animal Animals are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms in the biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals consume organic material, breathe oxygen, are able to move, can reproduce sexually, and go through an ontogenetic stage i ...
s (including humans) and
plants Plants are predominantly Photosynthesis, photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things that were not animals, and included algae and fungi; however, all curr ...
reproduce sexually. Sexually reproducing organisms have different sets of genes for every trait (called
alleles An allele (, ; ; modern formation from Greek ἄλλος ''állos'', "other") is a variation of the same sequence of nucleotides at the Locus (genetics), same place on a long DNA molecule, as described in leading textbooks on genetics and evoluti ...
). Offspring inherit one allele for each trait from each parent. Thus, offspring have a combination of the parents' genes. It is believed that "the masking of deleterious alleles favors the evolution of a dominant diploid phase in organisms that alternate between haploid and diploid phases" where recombination occurs freely.
Bryophyte The Bryophyta s.l. are a proposed taxonomic division containing three groups of non-vascular land plants (embryophytes): the liverworts, hornworts and moss Mosses are small, non-vascular flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloo ...
s reproduce sexually, but the larger and commonly-seen organisms are
haploid Ploidy () is the number of complete sets of chromosomes in a cell (biology), cell, and hence the number of possible alleles for Autosome, autosomal and Pseudoautosomal region, pseudoautosomal genes. Sets of chromosomes refer to the number of mat ...
and produce
gametes A gamete (; , ultimately ) is a Ploidy#Haploid and monoploid, haploid cell that fuses with another haploid cell during fertilization in organisms that Sexual reproduction, reproduce sexually. Gametes are an organism's reproductive cells, also r ...
. The gametes fuse to form a
zygote A zygote (, ) is a eukaryote, eukaryotic cell (biology), cell formed by a fertilization event between two gametes. The zygote's genome is a combination of the DNA in each gamete, and contains all of the genetic information of a new individual ...
which develops into a
sporangium A sporangium (; from Late Latin, ) is an enclosure in which spores are formed. It can be composed of a unicellular organism, single cell or can be multicellular organism, multicellular. Virtually all plants, fungus, fungi, and many other l ...
, which in turn produces haploid spores. The
diploid Ploidy () is the number of complete sets of chromosomes in a cell (biology), cell, and hence the number of possible alleles for Autosome, autosomal and Pseudoautosomal region, pseudoautosomal genes. Sets of chromosomes refer to the number of mat ...
stage is relatively small and short-lived compared to the haploid stage, i.e. ''haploid dominance''. The advantage of diploidy, heterosis, only exists in the diploid life generation. Bryophytes retain sexual reproduction despite the fact that the haploid stage does not benefit from heterosis. This may be an indication that the sexual reproduction has advantages other than heterosis, such as
genetic recombination Genetic recombination (also known as genetic reshuffling) is the exchange of genetic material between different organisms which leads to production of offspring with combinations of traits that differ from those found in either parent. In eukaryot ...
between members of the species, allowing the expression of a wider range of traits and thus making the
population Population typically refers to the number of people in a single area, whether it be a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, ...
more able to survive environmental variation.


Allogamy

Allogamy is the fertilization of flowers through cross-pollination, this occurs when a flower's ovum is fertilized by spermatozoa from the pollen of a different plant's flower. Pollen may be transferred through pollen vectors or abiotic carriers such as wind. Fertilization begins when the pollen is brought to a female gamete through the pollen tube. Allogamy is also known as cross fertilization, in contrast to autogamy or geitonogamy which are methods of self-fertilization.


Autogamy

Self-
fertilization Fertilisation or fertilization (see American and British English spelling differences#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization), spelling differences), also known as generative fertilisation, syngamy and impregnation, is the fusion of gametes to give ...
, also known as autogamy, occurs in
hermaphroditic In reproductive biology, a hermaphrodite () is an organism that has both kinds of reproductive organs and can produce both gametes associated with male and female sexes. Many Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic groups of animals (mostly invertebrate ...
organisms where the two
gamete A gamete (; , ultimately ) is a Ploidy#Haploid and monoploid, haploid cell that fuses with another haploid cell during fertilization in organisms that Sexual reproduction, reproduce sexually. Gametes are an organism's reproductive cells, also r ...
s fused in fertilization come from the same individual, e.g., many
vascular plants Vascular plants (), also called tracheophytes () or collectively Tracheophyta (), form a large group of land plants ( accepted known species) that have lignified tissues (the xylem) for conducting water and minerals throughout the plant. They ...
, some
foraminifera Foraminifera (; Latin for "hole bearers"; informally called "forams") are single-celled organisms, members of a phylum or class (biology), class of Amoeba, amoeboid protists characterized by streaming granular Ectoplasm (cell biology), ectoplasm ...
ns, some
ciliate The ciliates are a group of alveolates characterized by the presence of hair-like organelles called cilia, which are identical in structure to flagellum, eukaryotic flagella, but are in general shorter and present in much larger numbers, with a ...
s. The term "autogamy" is sometimes substituted for autogamous pollination (not necessarily leading to successful fertilization) and describes
self-pollination Self-pollination is a form of pollination in which pollen from the same plant arrives at the Stigma (botany), stigma of a flower (in flowering plants) or at the ovule (in gymnosperms). There are two types of self-pollination: in autogamy, pollen i ...
within the same flower, distinguished from geitonogamous pollination, transfer of pollen to a different flower on the same
flowering plant Flowering plants are plants that bear flowers and fruits, and form the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek language, Greek words ('container, vessel') and ('seed'), and refers to ...
, or within a single
monoecious Monoecy (; adj. monoecious ) is a sexual system in seed plants where separate male and female cones or flowers are present on the same plant. It is a monomorphic sexual system alongside gynomonoecy, andromonoecy and trimonoecy. Monoecy is conne ...
Gymnosperm The gymnosperms ( lit. revealed seeds) are a group of seed-producing plants that includes conifers, cycads, '' Ginkgo'', and gnetophytes, forming the clade Gymnospermae. The term ''gymnosperm'' comes from the composite word in el, γυμν ...
plant.


Mitosis and meiosis

Mitosis In cell biology, mitosis () is a part of the cell cycle in which replicated chromosomes are separated into two new nuclei. Cell division by mitosis gives rise to genetically identical cells in which the total number of chromosomes is maintai ...
and
meiosis Meiosis (; , since it is a reductional division) is a special type of cell division of germ cells in sexually-reproducing organisms that produces the gametes, such as sperm or egg cells. It involves two rounds of division that ultimately ...
are types of
cell division Cell division is the process by which a parent cell (biology), cell divides into two daughter cells. Cell division usually occurs as part of a larger cell cycle in which the cell grows and replicates its chromosome(s) before dividing. In eukar ...
. Mitosis occurs in somatic cells, while meiosis occurs in
gametes A gamete (; , ultimately ) is a Ploidy#Haploid and monoploid, haploid cell that fuses with another haploid cell during fertilization in organisms that Sexual reproduction, reproduce sexually. Gametes are an organism's reproductive cells, also r ...
. Mitosis The resultant number of cells in mitosis is twice the number of original cells. The number of
chromosomes A chromosome is a long DNA molecule with part or all of the genetic material of an organism. In most chromosomes the very long thin DNA fibers are coated with packaging proteins; in eukaryotic cells the most important of these proteins are ...
in the offspring cells is the same as that of the parent cell. Meiosis The resultant number of cells is four times the number of original cells. This results in cells with half the number of
chromosomes A chromosome is a long DNA molecule with part or all of the genetic material of an organism. In most chromosomes the very long thin DNA fibers are coated with packaging proteins; in eukaryotic cells the most important of these proteins are ...
present in the parent cell. A
diploid Ploidy () is the number of complete sets of chromosomes in a cell (biology), cell, and hence the number of possible alleles for Autosome, autosomal and Pseudoautosomal region, pseudoautosomal genes. Sets of chromosomes refer to the number of mat ...
cell duplicates itself, then undergoes two divisions (
tetraploid Polyploidy is a condition in which the cells of an organism In biology, an organism () is any life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are classified by ...
to diploid to haploid), in the process forming four
haploid Ploidy () is the number of complete sets of chromosomes in a cell (biology), cell, and hence the number of possible alleles for Autosome, autosomal and Pseudoautosomal region, pseudoautosomal genes. Sets of chromosomes refer to the number of mat ...
cells. This process occurs in two phases, meiosis I and meiosis II.


Same-sex

Scientific research is currently investigating the possibility of same-sex procreation, which would produce offspring with equal genetic contributions from either two females or two males. The obvious approaches, subject to a growing amount of activity, are female sperm and male eggs. In 2004, by altering the function of a few genes involved with imprinting, other Japanese scientists combined two mouse eggs to produce daughter mice and in 2018 Chinese scientists created 29 female mice from two female mice mothers but were unable to produce viable offspring from two father mice. Researches noted that there is little chance these techniques would be applied to humans in the near future.


Strategies

There are a wide range of reproductive strategies employed by different species. Some animals, such as the
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedality, bipedalism and exceptional cognitive skills due to a large and complex Human brain, brain. This has enabled the development of ad ...
and
northern gannet The northern gannet (''Morus bassanus'') is a seabird, the largest species of the gannet family, Sulidae. It is native to the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean, breeding in Western Europe and Northeastern North America. It is the largest seabird in t ...
, do not reach
sexual maturity Sexual maturity is the capability of an organism to reproduce. In humans it might be considered synonymous with adulthood, but here puberty is the name for the process of biological sexual maturation, while adulthood is based on cultural definitio ...
for many years after
birth Birth is the act or process of bearing or bringing forth offspring In biology, offspring are the young creation of living organisms, produced either by a Asexual reproduction, single organism or, in the case of sexual reproduction, two organ ...
and even then produce few offspring. Others reproduce quickly; but, under normal circumstances, most offspring do not survive to
adult An adult is a human or other animal that has reached Developmental biology, full growth. In human context, the term ''adult'' has meanings associated with social and Law, legal concepts. In contrast to a "Minor (law), minor", a legal adult is a p ...
hood. For example, a
rabbit Rabbits, also known as bunnies or bunny rabbits, are small mammals in the family (biology), family Leporidae (which also contains the hares) of the order (biology), order Lagomorpha (which also contains the pikas). ''Oryctolagus cuniculus'' i ...
(mature after 8 months) can produce 10–30 offspring per year, and a fruit fly (mature after 10–14 days) can produce up to 900 offspring per year. These two main strategies are known as K-selection (few offspring) and r-selection (many offspring). Which strategy is favoured by
evolution Evolution is change in the heredity, heritable Phenotypic trait, characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the Gene expression, expressions of genes, which are passed on from parent to ...
depends on a variety of circumstances. Animals with few offspring can devote more resources to the nurturing and protection of each individual offspring, thus reducing the need for many offspring. On the other hand, animals with many offspring may devote fewer resources to each individual offspring; for these types of animals it is common for many offspring to die soon after birth, but enough individuals typically survive to maintain the population. Some organisms such as honey bees and fruit flies retain sperm in a process called sperm storage thereby increasing the duration of their fertility.


Other types

* Polycyclic animals reproduce intermittently throughout their lives. * Semelparous organisms reproduce only once in their lifetime, such as
annual plant An annual plant is a plant that completes its biological life cycle, life cycle, from germination to the production of seeds, within one growing season, and then dies. The length of growing seasons and period in which they take place vary accor ...
s (including all grain crops), and certain species of salmon, spider, bamboo and century plant. Often, they die shortly after reproduction. This is often associated with r-strategists. * Iteroparous organisms produce offspring in successive (e.g. annual or seasonal) cycles, such as
perennial plant A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives more than two years. The term (''wikt:per-#Prefix, per-'' + ''wikt:-ennial#Suffix, -ennial'', "through the years") is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter-lived annual pl ...
s. Iteroparous animals survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes). This is more associated with K-strategists.


Asexual vs. sexual reproduction

Organisms that reproduce through asexual reproduction tend to grow in number exponentially. However, because they rely on mutation for variations in their DNA, all members of the species have similar vulnerabilities. Organisms that reproduce sexually yield a smaller number of offspring, but the large amount of variation in their genes makes them less susceptible to disease. Many organisms can reproduce sexually as well as asexually.
Aphid Aphids are small sap-sucking insects and members of the Taxonomic rank, superfamily Aphidoidea. Common names include greenfly and blackfly, although individuals within a species can vary widely in color. The group includes the fluffy white Erio ...
s,
slime mold Slime mold or slime mould is an informal name given to several kinds of unrelated eukaryotic organisms with a life cycle that includes a free-living single-celled stage and the formation of spores. Spores are often produced in macroscopic mul ...
s,
sea anemone Sea anemones are a group of predation, predatory marine invertebrates of the order (biology), order Actiniaria. Because of their colourful appearance, they are named after the ''Anemone'', a terrestrial flowering plant. Sea anemones are classifi ...
s, some species of
starfish Starfish or sea stars are Star polygon, star-shaped echinoderms belonging to the class (biology), class Asteroidea (). Common usage frequently finds these names being also applied to brittle star, ophiuroids, which are correctly referred to ...
(by fragmentation), and many plants are examples. When environmental factors are favorable, asexual reproduction is employed to exploit suitable conditions for survival such as an abundant food supply, adequate shelter, favorable climate, disease, optimum pH or a proper mix of other lifestyle requirements. Populations of these organisms increase exponentially via asexual reproductive strategies to take full advantage of the rich supply resources. When food sources have been depleted, the climate becomes hostile, or individual survival is jeopardized by some other adverse change in living conditions, these organisms switch to sexual forms of reproduction. Sexual reproduction ensures a mixing of the gene pool of the species. The variations found in offspring of sexual reproduction allow some individuals to be better suited for survival and provide a mechanism for selective adaptation to occur. The meiosis stage of the sexual cycle also allows especially effective repair of DNA damages (see
Meiosis Meiosis (; , since it is a reductional division) is a special type of cell division of germ cells in sexually-reproducing organisms that produces the gametes, such as sperm or egg cells. It involves two rounds of division that ultimately ...
). In addition, sexual reproduction usually results in the formation of a life stage that is able to endure the conditions that threaten the offspring of an asexual parent. Thus, seeds, spores, eggs, pupae, cysts or other "over-wintering" stages of sexual reproduction ensure the survival during unfavorable times and the organism can "wait out" adverse situations until a swing back to suitability occurs.


Life without

The existence of life without reproduction is the subject of some speculation. The biological study of how the origin of life produced reproducing organisms from non-reproducing elements is called
abiogenesis In biology Biology is the scientific study of life. It is a natural science with a broad scope but has several unifying themes that tie it together as a single, coherent field. For instance, all organisms are made up of Cell (biology ...
. Whether or not there were several independent abiogenetic events, biologists believe that the last universal ancestor to all present life on Earth lived about 3.5 billion years ago. Scientists have speculated about the possibility of creating life non-reproductively in the laboratory. Several scientists have succeeded in producing simple viruses from entirely non-living materials. However, viruses are often regarded as not alive. Being nothing more than a bit of RNA or DNA in a protein capsule, they have no
metabolism Metabolism (, from el, μεταβολή ''metabolē'', "change") is the set of life-sustaining chemical reactions in organisms. The three main functions of metabolism are: the conversion of the energy in food to energy available to run cell ...
and can only replicate with the assistance of a hijacked cell's metabolic machinery. The production of a truly living organism (e.g. a simple bacterium) with no ancestors would be a much more complex task, but may well be possible to some degree according to current biological knowledge. A synthetic genome has been transferred into an existing bacterium where it replaced the native DNA, resulting in the artificial production of a new '' M. mycoides'' organism. There is some debate within the scientific community over whether this cell can be considered completely synthetic on the grounds that the chemically synthesized genome was an almost 1:1 copy of a naturally occurring genome and, the recipient cell was a naturally occurring bacterium. The Craig Venter Institute maintains the term "synthetic bacterial cell" but they also clarify "...we do not consider this to be "creating life from scratch" but rather we are creating new life out of already existing life using synthetic DNA". Venter plans to patent his experimental cells, stating that "they are pretty clearly human inventions". Its creators suggests that building 'synthetic life' would allow researchers to learn about life by building it, rather than by tearing it apart. They also propose to stretch the boundaries between life and machines until the two overlap to yield "truly programmable organisms". Researchers involved stated that the creation of "true synthetic biochemical life" is relatively close in reach with current technology and cheap compared to the effort needed to place man on the Moon.


Lottery principle

Sexual reproduction has many drawbacks, since it requires far more energy than asexual reproduction and diverts the organisms from other pursuits, and there is some argument about why so many species use it. George C. Williams used
lottery A lottery is a form of gambling that involves the drawing of numbers at random for a prize. Some governments outlaw lotteries, while others endorse it to the extent of organizing a national or state lottery. It is common to find some degree of ...
tickets as an
analogy Analogy (from Greek language, Greek ''analogia'', "proportion", from ''ana-'' "upon, according to" lso "against", "anew"+ ''logos'' "ratio" lso "word, speech, reckoning" is a cognition, cognitive process of transferring information or Mean ...
in one explanation for the widespread use of sexual reproduction. He argued that asexual reproduction, which produces little or no genetic variety in offspring, was like buying many tickets that all have the same number, limiting the chance of "winning" – that is, producing surviving offspring. Sexual reproduction, he argued, was like purchasing fewer tickets but with a greater variety of numbers and therefore a greater chance of success. The point of this analogy is that since asexual reproduction does not produce genetic variations, there is little ability to quickly adapt to a changing environment. The lottery principle is less accepted these days because of evidence that asexual reproduction is more prevalent in unstable environments, the opposite of what it predicts.


See also

*
Breeding season Seasonal breeders are animal species that successfully mating, mate only during certain times of the year. These times of year allow for the optimization of survival of young due to factors such as ambient temperature, food and water availability, ...
*
Masting Mast is the fruit In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants that is formed from the ovary after flowering. Fruits are the means by which flowering plants (also known as angiosperms) disseminate their seeds. Edible ...
* Mating system *
Modes of reproduction Animals make use of a variety of modes of reproduction to produce their young. Traditionally this variety was classified into three modes, oviparity (embryos in eggs), viviparity (young born live), and ovoviviparity (intermediate between the first ...
*
Plant reproduction Plant reproduction is the production of new offspring in plants, which can be accomplished by Sexual reproduction, sexual or asexual reproduction, asexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction produces offspring by the fusion of gametes, resulting in o ...
*
Reproductive system The reproductive system of an organism, also known as the genital system, is the biological system made up of all the anatomical sex organs, organs involved in sexual reproduction. Many non-living substances such as fluids, hormones, and pherom ...


Notes


References

* Tobler, M. & Schlupp, I. (2005) Parasites in sexual and asexual mollies (Poecilia, Poeciliidae, Teleostei): a case for the Red Queen? Biol. Lett. 1 (2): 166–168. * Zimmer, Carl. '' Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures'', New York: Touchstone, 2001. * *


Further reading

* Judson, Olivia (2003). '' Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex.'' * Richard E. Michod and Bruce E. Levin, editors (1987). ''The Evolution of Sex: An Examination of Current Ideas''. Sinauer Associates Inc., Publishers, Sunderland, MA * Michod, R.E. (1994). ''Eros and Evolution: A natural philosophy of sex''. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Reading, MA


External links


Asexual Reproduction

Journal of Biology of Reproduction

Journal of Andrology
*
"Replication and Reproduction." ''Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy''
{{Authority control Fertility