A student writes the following
summary about asexual reproduction. “Asexual reproduction is used by
one organism to produce new offspring.” “Asexual reproduction creates
offspring that are all genetically different, and it does this quickly.” What is incorrect about this
statement? (A) Asexual reproduction involves
two parents, not just one. (B) Asexual reproduction produces
genetically identical offspring, not genetically different ones. (C) Asexual reproduction is a slow,
time-consuming process, not a quick one.
Let’s start by discussing what
reproduction is. Reproduction is a biological
process. During reproduction, new organisms
are produced from existing organisms. We call these new organisms
offspring, and the existing organisms that produce offspring are the parents. We generally distinguish between
two types of reproduction: sexual reproduction and asexual reproduction. In sexual reproduction, the
gametes, also called sex cells, of typically two parents fuse to create
offspring. Because portions of two different
genomes, one from each gamete, contribute to the genome of sexually produced
offspring, they are genetically different from their parents. Sexual reproduction therefore
increases the genetic variation we can find in a population.
In asexual reproduction, a single
parent produces offspring without the fusion of gametes. One bacterium can, for example,
reproduce asexually through binary fission. These offspring are genetically
identical to the parent and to each other and are referred to as clones.
In order to figure out which part
of the summary is incorrect, let’s now analyze the text the student wrote. A student starts by writing
“Asexual reproduction is used by one organism to produce new offspring.” This is true. The defining feature of asexual
reproduction is that there is only one parent involved, which gives rise to new
individuals of the same species.
The next part states “Asexual
reproduction creates offspring that are all genetically different.” We have just learned that asexual
reproduction always produces genetically identical offspring. This means that this part of the
summary is the incorrect part.
The final piece of information says
“and it does this quickly.” Again, this is true. Asexual reproduction is generally a
very quick process. Some bacteria can reproduce
asexually in as short a time as 20 minutes.
The incorrect part of the statement
is therefore that asexual reproduction produces genetically identical offspring, not
genetically different ones.