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Genetics
Biology

Why do sperm and egg go through meiosis?

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April 11, 2009 6:20PM

Meiosis facilitates stable sexual reproduction. Without the halving of ploidy, or chromosome count, fertilization would result in zygotes that have twice the number of chromosomes as the zygotes from the previous generation. Successive generations would have an exponential increase in chromosome count. In organisms that are normally diploid, polyploidy, the state of having three or more sets of chromosomes, results in extreme developmental abnormalities or lethality. Polyploidy is poorly tolerated in most animal species. Plants, however, regularly produce fertile, viable polyploids. Polyploidy has been implicated as an important mechanism in plant speciation. Most importantly, recombination and independent assortment of homologous chromosomes allow for a greater diversity of genotypes in the population. This produces genetic variation in gametes that promote genetic and phenotypic variation in a population of offspring.