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Question Video: Correcting a Description of Sexual Reproduction Science

A student writes the following summary about sexual reproduction: Sexual reproduction is the process by which two organisms mate and produce genetically unique offspring. It produces new offspring very quickly. What is incorrect about this statement?

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Video Transcript

A student writes the following summary about sexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction is the process by which two organisms mate and produce genetically unique offspring. It produces new offspring very quickly. What is incorrect about this statement? (A) Sexual reproduction does not always involve two parents; it can sometimes involve only one or more than two. (B) Sexual reproduction is a time-consuming process, as individuals need to find mates and incubate their young. Or (C) sexual reproduction produces offspring that are identical to the parents, not genetically unique.

The question gives us a hypothetical summary of sexual reproduction and asks us to identify the inaccuracy in the statements. Let’s begin by reviewing the defining characteristics of sexual and asexual reproduction.

Sexual reproduction requires the fusion of a male and female gamete in a process called fertilization, which results in a zygote. The gametes typically come from two different parents. The resulting offspring will be genetically unique because it receives half its genetic information from its biological mother and half from its biological father. This means that sexual reproduction has the advantage of increasing the genetic variation of a population. However, it is a relatively slow process because of the time needed to find a mate, for fertilization to occur, and for the gestation or incubation period.

Asexual reproduction requires just one parent and does not involve the fusion of gametes. One of the most common methods of asexual reproduction is binary fission, in which a parent cell replicates its genetic information and then splits into two identical daughter cells. Asexual reproduction tends to be faster than sexual reproduction because no time is required to find a mate, for fertilization, or for an incubation or gestation period. For example, some bacteria can complete binary fission in a mere 20 minutes. In contrast, the total gestation period of humans, that is, the time from fertilization to birth, is about 38 weeks. It may be speedy, but asexual reproduction does have a major disadvantage. The resulting offspring are usually genetic clones. So asexual reproduction does not increase genetic variation.

We now have the information we need to correct the summary of sexual reproduction. The first sentence is correct because, as we discussed, sexual reproduction typically involves two organisms, the parents, and does produce genetically unique offspring. However, we also learned that sexual reproduction is more time-consuming than asexual reproduction. So the second sentence is incorrect. Looking over the answer choices, we can see that option (B) provides the correction for this statement. Sexual reproduction is a time-consuming process, as individuals need to find mates and incubate their young.

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