Meiosis is the cell division that takes place in the germ cells to generate male and female gametes, sperm and egg cells, respectively. Meiosis requires two cell divisions, meiosis I and meiosis II, to reduce the number of chromosomes to the haploid number of 23 (Fig. 1.3). As in mitosis, male and female germ cells (spermatocytes and primary oocytes) at the beginning of meiosis I replicate their DNA so that each of the 46 chromosomes is duplicated into sister chro-matids. In contrast to mitosis, however, homologous chromosomes then align themselves in pairs, a process called synapsis. The pairing is exact and point for point except for the XY combination. Homologous pairs then separate into two daughter cells. Shortly thereafter meiosis II separates sister chromatids. Each gamete then contains 23 chromosomes.
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Once your pregnancy is over and done with, your baby is happily in your arms, and youre headed back home from the hospital, youll begin to realize that things have only just begun. Over the next few days, weeks, and months, youre going to increasingly notice that your entire life has changed in more ways than you could ever imagine.