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Difference Between Cleavage and Mitosis

Cell cycle involves two events – cleavage and mitosis. Another name for cleavage is cytokinesis while mitosis includes two main steps – cytokinesis and karyokinesis. Mitosis is a cell division process wherein a parent cell divides into daughter cells. Cleavage on the other hand is the second step in the process of cell division that is responsible for splitting of the parent cell into two daughter cells.

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  • Cleavage meaning in biology can be understood as the initial divisions in a zygote or fertilised egg.
  • It commences during the last phase of nuclear division – telophase
  • It describes the cytoplasmic division of all types of cells even that of animal cells, plant cells and prokaryotic cells as this process refers to cytokinesis in animals
  • In animals and in several unicellular eukaryotes, the process of cytokinesis takes place in four stages – initiation, contraction, membrane insertion, and completion
  • It is a series of rapid mitotic divisions of the zygote distinguished by the absence of growth of daughter cells converting the zygote to the blastula


  • In this type of cell division, chromosomes of the parent cells are replicated and distributed equally into two daughter cells
  • It occurs in two steps – nuclear division following cytokinesis
  • It has 4 stages – metaphase, prophase, anaphase, and the telophase.

Difference between Cleavage and Mitosis

The table below depicts a few differences between Cleavage and Mitosis

Cleavage Mitosis
Blastomere size decreases as they increase in number Daughter cells remain steady in size due to constant growth
Zygote, parthenogenetic egg Cells of the body
Takes place only in animal cells Takes place in both animal and plant cells
Short phase. Blastomeres do not grow during this phase Longer phase. Here, daughter cells grow up to normal size
Blastomere mass decreases with increase in their number Mass of daughter cells increases beyond that of the parent cell
Nuclear/cytoplasmic ratio
Increases as the cleavage advances Remains unchanged
Synthesis of DNA
At a faster pace forming chromosomes for new blastomeres At a normal pace
In animal cells, it is known as cytokinesis Mitosis involves two steps – karyokinesis and cytokinesis
Actin and myosin filaments, and the contractile ring Nuclear division involves the mitotic spindles that are made up of microtubules
Cytoplasmic division of parent cell takes place in two daughter nuclei Division of parent nucleus takes place into two daughter nuclei after which cytoplasm divides

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Also Read:

Difference Between Internal and External Fertilization
Difference between Oviparous and Viviparous Animals


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