In biology, meiosis is the process that allows one diploid cell to divide in a special way to generate haploid cells in eukaryotes. The word "meiosis" comes from the Greek meioun, meaning "to make smaller," since it results in a reduction in chromosome number.
Meiosis is essential for sexual reproduction. It therefore occurs in most eukaryotes, including single-celled organisms. A few eukaryotes, notably the Bdelloid rotifers, have lost the ability to carry out meiosis and acquired the ability to reproduce by parthenogenesis. Meiosis does not occur in archaea or prokaryotes, which reproduce by a sexual cell division processes.
During meiosis, the genome of a diploid germ cell, which is composed of long segments of DNA called chromosomes, undergoes DNA replication followed by two rounds of division, resulting in haploid cells called gametes. Each gamete contains one complete set of chromosomes, or half of the genetic content of the original cell. These resultant haploid cells can fuse with other haploid cells of the opposite gender or mating type during fertilization to create a new diploid cell, or zygote. Thus, the division mechanism of meiosis is a reciprocal process to the joining of two genomes that occurs at fertilization. Because the chromosomes of each parent undergo genetic recombination during meiosis, each gamete, and thus each zygote, will have a unique genetic blueprint encoded in its DNA. In other words, meiosis is the process that produces genetic variation.
Biochemically, meiosis uses some of the same mechanisms employed during mitosis to accomplish the redistribution of chromosomes. There are several features unique to meiosis, most importantly the pairing and recombination between homologous chromosomes, which enable them to separate from each other