What Does Asexual Reproduction Mean?

Asexual reproduction is a mode of reproduction in which one or multiple offsprings arise from a single parent. Hence they resemble their parent exactly since they receive genes from one parent only and does not involve the fusion of male and female gametes.

However, the entities thus produced lack in diversity because of the involvement of a single parent. Also, they reproduce at a faster rate than the sexually reproducing organisms as asexual mode does not require a mate to reproduce thus giving rise to a new population rapidly. To promote diversity, some entities can exchange genetic information through the horizontal gene transfer process. Some bacteria, use plasmids to transfer small snippets of DNA which results in very few unique genotypes compared to the sexual reproduction method.

Asexual reproduction is usually carried out by single-celled organisms such as bacteria, protists, archaebacteria etc. However, some plants and animal species such as fungi can reproduce both through asexual and sexual means.

Advantages Of Asexual Reproduction

  • The rapid growth of a population
  • A single mutant is capable to build a complete population in a matter of days in case of complete wipeout by viruses.
  • No requirement of mate to reproduce, which is useful in case of isolated species(fungi growing on spores, plants requiring pollinators)
  • Resource investment is low since only one part or segment of the parent is involved and hence nurturing of the newly born requires fewer resources. This ability to simply split and develop into a new individual is one reason why it is faster than sexual reproduction.

Different Modes Of Asexual Reproduction

Asexual reproduction occurs through the following modes:

  • Fission

It is a type of reproduction in which parent cells divide into daughter cells along with its genetic information. Prokaryotes such as archaea and bacteria reproduce asexually.

Example – Amoeba

  • Fragmentation

A new individual is born as a fragment is detached from the parent organism. This fragment has the potential to develop into a mature individual which exhibits the characteristics similar to that of parents.

Example – Spirogyra

  • Budding

A bud is formed as a result of continuous cell division at a particular site. These buds grow from small to mature individuals post which they detach completely from the parent body to live as independent individuals. Example – Hydra

  • Regeneration

Entities with specialized cells differentiate themselves into separate new individuals. These cells then multiply to form a group of cells which undergo certain changes to transform into cells and tissues of different types and later move to the developmental stage. Example – Planaria.

  • Vegetative propagation

It is a type of reproduction usually observed in plants and is brought about by various parts of the plants such as the stem, roots, leaves, and buds wherein new offsprings are formed without the generation of spores or seeds. Such plants exhibit characteristics similar to that of their parents and produce flowers and fruits. Example – Bryophyllum.

  • Spore formation

Multicellular organisms undergo sporogenesis through which spores are generated where haploid individuals give rise to gametes that are formed without fertilization through mitosis. Mitosis gives rise to mitospores which are reproductive cells that mature to form new individuals. Example – Red Algae.

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Practise This Question

Match the following and choose the correct option:
A. Simple squamous epithelium 1. Ducted glands
B. Simple cuboidal epithelium 2. Ductless glands
C. Exocrine glands 3. Secretion and absorption
D. Endocrine glands 4. Diffusion and osmosis occur