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Question Video: Identifying the Best Description of a Haploid Cell Biology

Which of the following best defines a haploid cell? [A] A cell that contains two copies of each pair of homologous chromosomes. [B] A cell that has two copies of each chromosome. [C] A cell that divides to form two identical daughter cells. [D] A cell that only has one copy of each chromosome.

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Video Transcript

Which of the following best defines a haploid cell? (A) A cell that contains two copies of each pair of homologous chromosomes. (B) A cell that has two copies of each chromosome. (C) A cell that divides to form two identical daughter cells. Or (D) a cell that only has one copy of each chromosome.

As you may know, nearly every cell in the body contains genetic material in its nucleus. This genetic material is carried by a molecule called DNA. DNA is usually stored in a highly coiled and condensed form that creates a densely packed structure known as a chromosome. Human cells generally have 46 chromosomes, arranged into 23 pairs. The two chromosomes in each pair are similar in size and appearance and carry the same genes at the same position. These pairs are called homologous pairs of chromosomes.

When a cell has its full set of chromosomes, which would be 46 chromosomes in the case of human cells, it is called a diploid cell, which is often also represented as 2n. It’s important to note that a duplicated chromosome isn’t counted as two separate chromosomes. When cells divide to form new cells, they must pass on copies of their chromosomes so that the newly formed cells contain the genetic material they need to function.

There are two types of cell division: mitosis and meiosis. Mitosis involves the division of a cell into two identical daughter cells. During mitosis, the number of chromosomes in a cell doesn’t change. The parent cell simply duplicates each of its chromosomes and then splits into two, providing one copy of the chromosomes to each new cell. Mitosis happens during growth and development of an organism as well as to replace old or damaged cells.

Meiosis, on the other hand, is important for the process of reproduction. This type of division only happens in the gonads, which are the reproductive organs, in order to produce gametes, or sex cells, that is, sperm or egg. In meiosis, a diploid cell divides twice to form four haploid gametes. If the diploid cell had, say, just two total chromosomes, or one pair, during the division the pair will be separated so that only one chromosome of that pair ends up in the gametes.

In the case of human cells that have 46 total chromosomes, or 23 pairs, this will mean that each haploid gamete has only 23 total chromosomes, or half of the total chromosomal set of that individual. These haploid cells are created so that they can combine with the haploid cell of another individual through fertilization to create a new offspring with the same number of chromosomes as the parents, 46 in this case.

So what is the best definition of a haploid cell? That would be (D). A haploid cell is a cell that only has one copy of each chromosome.

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