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Elementary Science Education

Asexual Reproduction (cloning) in Plants and Animals

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      Bernard Nebel

      Numerous plants exhibit asexual (a-sexual = without sex) reproduction in addition to the sexual process. That is, the plant has the natural capacity to produce “offspring” without involving sex. The following video provides some examples.

      Note that such offspring are produced via growth, division (mitosis), and differentiation of the adult’s cells. There is no shuffling of chromosomes. Therefore, all the offspring will be exact genetic copies of the parent. Such genetically identical “offspring” are called a CLONE.

      All the apples (or other kind of fruit) of a given variety are members of a clone. Horticulturalists, those who specialize in the growing of fruit trees, propagate  desired varieties by means of GRAFTING as shown here:

      Numerous vegetables are reproduced by rooting cuttings. That is, a bit of stem from the parent plant stuck in soil will from roots and grow into a full plant, again a genetic copy (clone) of the parent. See:

      Propagation of plants by rooting and grafting

      Many lower animals reproduce asexually as well. A classic example is the hydra, a common freshwater animal about a centimeter long. It produces  young, which are exact copies of itself, by a process called budding as seen here:

      Cloning animals

      Technology, described in the following video, now enables us to clone higher animals.

      Numerous animals have now been cloned. Type into your browser: cloned animals images/ However, defects in cloned animals are common and scientists warn that even small imbalances could lead to food safety problems.

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