Keeping up with the Chromosomes, Part 3: Meiosis vs. Mitosis

Visualization of chromosomes dividing

Now, in our last blog posts, we talked about about the different steps and end points for mitosis and meiosis. Remember, both of these processes focus on the division of cells, but at different times and in different places within an organism. We discussed both of the processes and the end results. Now we will explore how they are the same, how they are different, and how they contribute to maintaining the proper number of chromosomes in an organism.

How mitosis and meiosis are the same:

  • Both processes begin with a single cell that has two copies of each chromosome (diploid).
  • The cells undergo the same basic steps – prophase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase.
  • At the end of the process, both mitosis and meiosis have produced new daughter cells.

How mitosis and meiosis are different:


  • Mitosis produces cells necessary for growth and maintenance of an organism.
  • Happens in all cells from bacteria to animals.
  • Creates somatic (body) cells.
  • Produces two diploid cells.
  • Cell divides once.
  • Chromosomes do not cross over so that the DNA remains the same after mitosis.
  • Sister chromatids separate during anaphase.
  • Daughter cells are genetically identical to the parent cell.


  • Meiosis produces the cells necessary for sexual reproduction
  • Only happens in organisms that reproduce sexually.
  • Creates gametes for sexual reproduction.
  • Produces four haploid cells
  • Cell divides twice
  • Chromosomes undergo “crossing over” to increase genetic diversity.
  • Entire chromosomes separate during Anaphase I; sister chromatids separate during Anaphase II.
  • Daughter cells are genetically different from parent cell.

After reading about both of these cellular processes, your students can create a Venn diagram identifying the similarities and differences and explaining why each is important. There are also a lot of great resources available to help students visualize these processes, from hands on experiments to models and more. We also love the videos like this one from the Amoeba Sisters, below.

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