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Interactive video lesson plan for: What Is Asexual Reproduction | Biology for All | FuseSchool

Activity overview:

Asexual reproduction only needs one parent; all the offspring are clones. This means they are genetically identical to one another and to the parent.

Many plants use asexual reproduction, like spider plants. Bacteria also reproduce asexually in a process called binary fission. And even some animals use asexual reproduction. It is much less common, but is seen in some simple ones like Hydra, Aphids and starfish.

Asexual reproduction does not involve sex cells or fertilisation. Asexual reproduction occurs using normal cell division known as mitosis.

One major advantage of asexual reproduction is that populations can increase rapidly. They don’t have to waste time and energy in finding a mate. Also by being clones, they can exploit a suitable habitat quickly. They fill the niches, making it harder for predators and competitors to invade.

However, it also comes with disadvantages. There is no genetic variation; if the climate or selection pressures change then the population will be much slower to adapt as they have no diversity. By being identical, the population is best suited to only that one habitat and all have the same vulnerability to disease. The same traits also mean the same weaknesses. If a predator or disease adapts to kill one individual, then they can take out the entire population, resulting in extinction. Genetic variation does have a lot of merits.

Some organisms can combine both sexual and asexual reproduction depending upon the circumstances. Malarial parasites reproduce asexually in the human host, but sexually in the mosquito. Many fungi reproduce asexually by spores but also reproduce sexually to give variation. And many plants produce seeds sexually, but also reproduce asexually by runners such as strawberry plants, or bulb division such as daffodils. Even aphids alternate between sexual and asexual reproduction- asexually in the spring and summer, and then sexually in the winter as the eggs can survive the cold better.

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