What life is


All cells come from cells

The most distinguishing feature of life is the ability of organisms to reproduce. A central feature of reproduction is the capacity of cells to grow and divide (cell division) and make two almost identical copies (daughter cells) of themselves. While single cells reproduce through cell division called asexual reproduction, larger multicellular organisms use cell fusion or sexual reproduction to produce offspring. Both processes are related but differ in their way of reproducing the complete set of genetic material (genome) from generation to generation. Both processes demand a faithful copying of genetic material. However, sexually reproducing species use a mechanism to randomly shuffle existing genetic variations from one generation to the next, thus maintaining diversity. Genetic variations are important because they are the only way life can evolve, i.e., adapt to changes in the environment.

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 Copyright © 1999-2011 Lukas K. Buehler