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Asexual Reproduction

What is Asexual Reproduction?

Asexual reproduction is a type of reproduction in some organisms in which offspring arise from only one parent. It is the primary form of reproduction in single-celled organisms, however, some plants and fungi can reproduce asexually as well.

Advantages of Asexual Reproduction

There are many advantages of asexual reproduction. One advantage is the speed of producing offsprings quickly. Because it does not involve the formation of gametes so the time is saved and can be utilized by parent cell to spread its genetic material rapidly. It is also beneficial for smaller populations. For example, if there is a small number of plants in an area then, there will be very small amount of plants to pollinate one another. In that case, it will be a good choice to reproduce asexually, to increase the number of plants of that species in such area.

Moreover, if an organism is very successful and its environment is stable i.e. not changing a lot then it will be beneficial to reproduce asexually to get successful offsprings as well.

Disadvantages of Asexual Reproduction

Although asexual reproduction is advantageous in many cases but sometimes it may cause serious threats to a population. Asexually reproduced offsprings have no diversity. Since they are produced from the single parent so no mix-up of genetic material and no diversity, they are exactly identical. They are very prone to extinction because all the offsprings have same traits so same weaknesses. One diseased organism can cause the whole population to wipe out because there is no genetic diversity.  Another disadvantage is the lack of adaptability. If an individual establishes reaction to something, it is passed down to other individuals as well.

What are the main types of asexual reproduction?

There are many types of reproduction like budding, binary fission, vegetative reproduction, fragmentation, and agamogenesis.

  • Budding

It is a form of asexual reproduction in which offspring arise from a bud arisen at some particular site on the parent. The bud (new offspring to be) remains attached until it grows and separates from parent cell only when it is fully developed and mature.

  • Binary Fission

It is the most common kind of reproduction in prokaryotes in which one parent cell is divided into two equal-sized daughter cells after replicating its genetic material.

  • Vegetative Propagation

A type of asexual reproduction found in some plants in which they produce new offsprings without seeds or spore formation, rather, the new plants grow from parts of the parent plant.

  • Fragmentation

A type of asexual reproduction in which an organism is divided into fragments, each of the fragments then develops into fully mature individuals.

  • Agamogenesis

Literally it means the production of offspring without involving any male gamete. The examples are parthenogenesis (in which ovum develops into an embryo without fertilization)  and apomixes (new sporophyte develops without fertilization).

Asexually Reproducing Animals

Vertebrates like Hammerhead shark, Blacktip sharp, and Komodo dragon sometimes use parthenogenesis instead of sexual reproduction. Invertebrates like aphids, water fleas, rotifers, bees, ants and wasps also reproduce by parthenogenesis. These animals can alternate between sexual and asexual reproduction.

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