The term mitosis means the part of cell division in which the nucleus divides in two in eukaryotic cells. Mitosis can also casually be used to mean the actual complete division of a cell into two cells (although the proper term of a cell fully splitting into two would be a combination of mitosis and cytokinesis). All somatic cells, or body cells, divide by the process of mitosis. The only cells in the human body that do not undergo mitosis are the gametes, or sex cells (egg and sperm) which undergo a different process called meiosis.

Many bacteria and other single celled organisms undergo what is called binary fission, which is very similar to mitosis.

Before mitosis can begin, the DNA has to be duplicated exactly. If any mistakes or mutations are made, then the traits that are expressed by those chromosomes can change. During mitosis, the duplicated strands of chromatids that make up the chromosomes line up and are pulled apart and put into different daughter cells. Mitosis ensures that each new cell is identical to the parent cell and identical to each other so they function properly.

Mistakes in mitosis can happen if chromosomes do not separate as expected. This can lead to some genetic disorders or even death if it happens in a developing fetus. However, there is a built in mechanism to catch those mistakes and fix them. A few do slip through undetected and can change the genetics of the organism.

The mistakes in mitosis generally do not affect which genes can be passed down to offspring since mitosis does not happen in gametes.

The gametes are the ones that carry the genetic information that will be passed down to the next generation. However, if the mistakes occur during fetal development, that could affect gametes once they are made and therefore affect future generations.

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Scoville, Heather. "Mitosis." ThoughtCo, Apr. 10, 2016, Scoville, Heather. (2016, April 10). Mitosis. Retrieved from Scoville, Heather. "Mitosis." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 13, 2017).