Mitosis Study Guide

Detailed Image of Cell Mitosis. luismmolina/ E+/ Getty Images

Cell division is an elegant process that enables organisms to grow and reproduce. In mitosis, the replicated genetic material in a parent cell is equally distributed between two daughter cells. While there are some subtle differences, mitosis is remarkably similar across organisms. Somatic cells reproduce by mitosis, while sex cells are produced by a similar type of cell division called meiosis.

Before a dividing cell enters the mitosis phase of the cell cycle, it undergoes a period of growth called interphase.

Interphase is the "holding" stage or the stage between two successive cell divisions. In this stage, the cell replicates its genetic material and organelles in preparation for division.

Mitosis is composed of several stages

Let's briefly look at some important events in each step in the process.


In prophase, the chromatin condenses into discrete chromosomes. The nuclear envelope breaks down and spindles form at opposite "poles" of the cell.


In metaphase, the chromosomes are aligned at the metaphase plate (a plane that is equally distant from the two spindle poles).


In anaphase, the paired chromosomes (sister chromatids) move to opposite ends of the cell.


In this last stage, the chromosomes are cordoned off into distinct new nuclei in the emerging daughter cells. Cytokinesis is also occurring at this time.

At the end of mitosis, two distinct cells with identical genetic material are produced.