Applied Science, Life Science, Biology
Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division
Rice University
Anaphase, Binary Fission, Cancer, Cdk, Cell Cycle Checkpoint, Cell Cycle Control, Cell Cycle Regulation, Cell Division, Cell Motion, Cell Plate, Cell Reproduction, Cell-cycle, Centriole, Centromere, Checkpoint, Chromatid, Chromosome, Chromosome Compaction, Cleavage Furrow, Condensin, Cyclin, Cyclin-dependent Kinase, Cytokinesis, Cytoplasm, DNA, Diploid, Double Helix, Eukaryotic Genome, First Gap, FtsZ, G0 Phase, G1, G1 Checkpoint, G1 Phase, G2, G2 Checkpoint, G2 Phase, Gamete, Gene, Genome, Genomic Dna, Golgi Apparatus, Haploid, Histone, Histone Protein, Homologous Chromosome, Inhibition of Cell Division, Initiation of Cell Division, Interphase, Karyokinesis, Kinetochore, Locus, M Checkpoint, Metaphase, Metaphase Plate, Mitosis, Mitotic Phase, Mitotic Spindle, Mutation, Negative Regulation, Nucleosome, Oncogene, Origin, P21, P53, Prokaryotic Cell Division, Prokaryotic Genome, Prometaphase, Prophase, Proto-Oncogene, Quiescent, RB, Retinoblastoma Protein, S Phase, Second Gap, Septum, Sister Chromatid, Somatic Cell, Spindle Checkpoint, Telophase, Trait, Tumor Suppressor, Tumor Suppressor Gene
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0


Section 1

Image A shows two conjoined cells forming a dumbbell shape; the fertilization envelope has been removed so that the mesh-like outer layer can be seen. Image B shows the sea urchin embryo when it has divided into 16 conjoined cells; the overall shape is rounder than in image A. Image C shows a “water melon” sea urchin which appears as a peach-colored ball covered in white protruding spines.
A sea urchin begins life as a single cell that (a) divides to form two cells, visible by scanning electron microscopy. After four rounds of cell division, (b) there are 16 cells, as seen in this SEM image. After many rounds of cell division, the individual develops into a complex, multicellular organism, as seen in this (c) mature sea urchin. (credit a: modification of work by Evelyn Spiegel, Louisa Howard; credit b: modification of work by Evelyn Spiegel, Louisa Howard; credit c: modification of work by Marco Busdraghi; scale-bar data from Matt Russell)

A human, as well as every sexually reproducing organism, begins life as a fertilized egg (embryo) or zygote. Trillions of cell divisions subsequently occur in a controlled manner to produce a complex, multicellular human. In other words, that original single cell is the ancestor of every other cell in the body. Once a being is fully grown, cell reproduction is still necessary to repair or regenerate tissues. For example, new blood and skin cells are constantly being produced. All multicellular organisms use cell division for growth and the maintenance and repair of cells and tissues. Cell division is tightly regulated, and the occasional failure of regulation can have life-threatening consequences. Single-celled organisms use cell division as their method of reproduction.