Mitosis – Definition, Prophase, Metaphase & More

Mitosis – An Overview

Mitosis is the cell division that produces two daughter cells and makes sure the same number of chromosomes as in parent cells. It is a very important phenomenon for growth in livings. Healing of wounds, regeneration in some organisms are all gifts of mitosis.

The continuous process of mitosis can be divided into two phases i.e., karyokinesis – the division of nucleus and cytokinesis – the division of cytoplasm or you can say the division of the whole cell. Karyokinesis further divided into prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase. In the prophase, there is the arrangement of chromosomes from chromatin and mitotic apparatus. In metaphase, chromosomes align at the metaphase plate.

The most critical phase is anaphase which makes sure the equal distribution of chromosomes to both new daughter cells. In telophase, chromosomes are again converted into chromatin, and further division of cells i.e., cytokinesis is initiated. In animals, cytokinesis occurs by pinching of a cellular membrane called cleavage furrow.

In plants, due to the presence of cell wall, the division is by phragmoplast which are the vesicles from the Golgi complex and lines up in the center of the cell after telophase.

Definition of Mitosis

It is the type of cell division, which makes sure the same variety of chromosomes in the daughter cells as that in the parent cells. Despite small differences, the major steps of mitosis are mostly similar in both plants and animals. However, to prevent confusion our statement will be based upon the animal cell.

The mitosis occurs in haploid as well as in diploid cells in nearly all parts of the body when needed. Mitosis is a continuous process; however, it can be divided into two phases, i.e., karyokinesis, which involves the division of the nucleus, and cytokinesis which describes the division of the whole cell.


Karyokinesis (Division of the nucleus)

At the start of the process in an animal cell, the partition of the centriole occurs, which has actually been duplicated throughout interphase however present in the same centrosome. First, in mitosis the two pairs of centrioles separate and migrate to opposite sides of the nucleus, developing the bipolarity of the dividing cells.
Three sets of microtubules (fibers) originate from each pair of centrioles.

One set the astral microtubules, radiate external and form aster, the other two sets of microtubules make up the spindle. The kinetochore microtubules attach to chromosomes at kinetochores and polar microtubules do not interact with the chromosomes but rather interdigitate with polar microtubules from the opposite pole.

These microtubules are composed of protein tubulin and traces of RNA. This specialized microtubule structure including aster and spindle is called mitotic apparatus. This is larger than the nucleus and is developed to attach and hook chromosomes, aligning them and finally separating them so that the equivalent division of chromosomes is ensured.

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Karyokinesis can further be divided into prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase for thorough understanding, though it is a constant process.


Throughout the interphase (non-dividing stage) of the cell cycle the chromosomes are not visible even with an electron microscopic lens, but using histologic stains for DNA, a network of really fine threads can be seen. This network is called chromatin. The chromatin product gets condensed by folding and the chromosomes appear as thin threads (0.25 mm – 50mm in length) at the beginning of prophase.

Chromosomes end up being increasingly thicker ultimately each chromosome shows up having two sister chromatids, attached at the centromere. Towards the end of prophase, the nuclear envelope vanishes, and nuclear material is released in the cytoplasm, nucleoli also vanish. The mitotic apparatus is organized. The cytoplasm ends up being more viscous.
mitosis prophase


In metaphase chromosome is a duplicated structure having two sister chromatids, connected at a point called centromere or primary constriction. The centromere has a unique area, the kinetochore, with the specific base arrangement and special proteins where kinetochore fibers of mitotic apparatus attach.

The kinetochore fibers of the spindle connect to the kinetochore region at the centromere of the chromosome and align them at the equator of the spindle forming an equatorial plate or metaphase plate. Each kinetochore gets two fibers one from each pole.


It is the most vital and critical stage of mitosis, which makes sure equal distribution of chromatids in the daughter cells. The kinetochore fibers of the spindle contract towards
their particular poles, at the same time polar microtubules lengthen, and exert force, and sister chromatids are separated from the centromere. As a result, half-sister chromatids move towards each pole.


Chromosome after reaching opposite poles terminates anaphase and starts telophase. The chromosomes are decondensed by unfolding and ultimately disappear as chromatin. Mitotic apparatus unorganized nuclear membrane and nucleoli rearrange, resulting in two nuclei at two poles of the cell.


Cytokinesis(Division of the cell)

Throughout late telophase the astral microtubules send signals to the equatorial area of the cell, where actin and myosin are triggered to form a contractile ring, followed by cleavage furrow, which deepens towards the center of the cell, dividing the parent cell into two daughter cells.

Cytokinesis in Animal Cells

cytokinesis occurs in much the same way whether the cell division is mitosis or meiosis. The cytokinetic furrow will form at the center of the cell eventually pinching off to separate the two cells.

The last procedure of cytokinesis in animal cells is abscission. During abscission, the actin-myosin contractile ring that produces the cytokinetic furrow is contracted all the way, and the plasma membranes undergo fission to finally separate the two cells.


Cytokinesis in Plant Cells

Mitotic events in plant cells are usually similar to the events observed in animal cells but there are some major differences. At cytokinesis, in place of a contractile ring a membrane structure, phragmoplast is formed from a vesicle that stems from the Golgi complex.

These vesicles originate actually during metaphase, and line up in the center of the dividing cell, where they fuse to form phragmoplast at the end of telophase.
The membrane of vesicles from the Golgi apparatus becomes the plasma membrane of daughter cells. These vesicles likewise contain materials for future cell walls such as precursors of cellulose and pectin.

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Mitosis Plants vs. Animals

In Prophase, animal cells have centrioles that arrange spindles while plant cells do not have centrioles. So, they have an analogous region. The spindle microtubule radiates from this region.

Throughout Telophase, animal cells have a contractile ring, which is made from actin and myosin. In plant cells, a phragmoplast, which is made of actin, myosin, and microtubules, forms in the center of the cell where the cell wall will appear.

In Cytokinesis, the contractile ring in animal cells form and pinches the cell into two daughter cells. In plants, the phragmoplast extends and forms the cell wall separating the two daughter cells.

In animals, the cell shape changes greatly but in plants, due to the rigid cell wall, there is no change in cell shape.

Significance of mitosis

In mitosis, the genome is similarly distributed in the daughter cells. As there is no crossing over or recombination, the genetic details stay unchanged generation after generation, therefore a transfer of similar information is guaranteed from parent cell to daughter cell.

Some organisms, plants, and animals, go through asexual reproduction by the mitosis. Regeneration, healing of wounds, and replacement of older cells all are the bounties of mitosis. Advancement and development of multicellular organisms depend upon orderly, regulated mitosis.

Tissue culture and cloning seek help through mitosis. For all this, an organism needs handling, managed, and correctly arranged procedure of mitosis, which otherwise may result in malfunction, undesirable tumors, and deadly diseases like cancer.

FAQs – Mitosis

  1. What is mitosis?
    • Answer: Mitosis is a type of cell division that ensures the daughter cells have the same set of chromosomes as the parent cell. It is a continuous process divided into two main phases: karyokinesis (division of the nucleus) and cytokinesis (division of the whole cell).
  2. Where does mitosis occur?
    • Answer: Mitosis occurs in both haploid and diploid cells throughout the body when needed. It is a fundamental process for growth, repair, and replacement of cells in organisms.
  3. What are the main phases of karyokinesis in mitosis?
    • Answer: Karyokinesis includes prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase. Each phase involves specific events leading to the equal distribution of chromosomes in the daughter cells.
  4. Describe the events in prophase during mitosis.
    • Answer: In prophase, chromatin condenses into visible chromosomes with two sister chromatids. The nuclear envelope disappears, and the mitotic apparatus, including centrioles and microtubules, is organized.
  5. How does anaphase ensure equal distribution of chromatids?
    • Answer: Anaphase is crucial for equal distribution. Kinetochore fibers contract, separating sister chromatids from the centromere. Polar microtubules lengthen, exerting force to move chromatids toward opposite poles.
  6. What happens during telophase in mitosis?
    • Answer: Telophase marks the end of anaphase. Chromosomes decondense, and the nuclear membrane and nucleoli are reorganized, resulting in two nuclei at opposite poles of the cell.
  7. Explain cytokinesis and its role in cell division.
    • Answer: Cytokinesis involves the division of the whole cell. In animal cells, a contractile ring forms, leading to the formation of a cleavage furrow and separation into two daughter cells. In plant cells, a phragmoplast helps form the new cell wall.
  8. How does mitosis differ between plants and animals?
    • Answer: Plant cells lack centrioles in prophase, and during cytokinesis, a phragmoplast forms instead of a contractile ring. The rigid cell wall in plants also affects the cell shape, unlike in animals.
  9. What is the significance of mitosis?
    • Answer: Mitosis ensures the even distribution of genetic information in daughter cells. It plays a crucial role in asexual reproduction, tissue regeneration, wound healing, and the replacement of older cells. Disorders in mitosis can lead to diseases like cancer.
  10. How does mitosis contribute to the development of multicellular organisms?
    • Answer: Orderly and regulated mitosis is essential for the development and growth of multicellular organisms. It maintains the genetic information and ensures the transfer of identical information from parent to daughter cells.
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Summarizing Mitosis

In summary, mitosis is a fundamental process of cell division ensuring the equitable distribution of genetic material from parent to daughter cells.

  • It occurs in both haploid and diploid cells, playing a crucial role in growth, repair, and replacement of cells throughout the body.
  • The process comprises karyokinesis, involving prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase, and cytokinesis, which leads to the division of the entire cell.
  • Mitosis is characterized by the condensation of chromatin into visible chromosomes, the organization of the mitotic apparatus, and the eventual separation of sister chromatids.
  • The significance of mitosis lies in its contribution to asexual reproduction, tissue regeneration, wound healing, and the maintenance of genetic information.
  • Disorders in mitosis can lead to severe diseases like cancer, emphasizing the need for precise and regulated mitotic processes in organisms.