Meiosis in Humans
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Meiosis, the process by which sexually-reproducing organisms generate gametes (sex cells), is an essential precondition for the normal formation of the embryo. As sexually reproducing, diploid, multicellular eukaryotes, humans rely on meiosis to serve a number of important functions, including the promotion of genetic diversity and the creation of proper conditions for reproductive success. However, the primary function of meiosis is the reduction of the ploidy (number of chromosomes) of the gametes from diploid (2n, or two sets of 23 chromosomes) to haploid (1n or one set of 23 chromosomes). While parts of meiosis are similar to mitotic processes, the two systems of cellular division produce distinctly different outcomes. Problems during meiosis can stop embryonic development and sometimes cause spontaneous miscarriages, genetic errors, and birth defects such as Down syndrome.