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noun, plural mitoses

The process where a single cell divides resulting in generally two identical cells, each containing the same number of chromosomes and genetic content as that of the original cell


The somatic cells of eukaryotes go through a sequence of biological events called cell cycle. The cell cycle is comprised of these fundamental events: (1) resting phase (Gap 0), (2) interphase (Gap 1, S phase, Gap 2), and (3) cell division (i.e. mitotic phase and cytokinesis). In essence, the cell may enter either the resting phase or the interphase following cell division. If it enters the interphase, the cell would prepare itself for cell division by replicating its DNA during the S phase. Prior to entering the mitotic phase, the cell has a control mechanism called G2-M DNA damage checkpoint that ensures the cell is ready for mitosis. Mitosis is comprised of four major phases which culminates in the formation of two identical (daughter) cells:

Originally, the term mitosis refers only to nuclear division unaccompanied by cytokinesis (which is the division of the cytoplasm), as in the case of some cells like certain fungi and in fertilized egg of many insects. As used now, mitosis used interchangeably with cell division.

Word origin: Greek mitos (warp thread) + –osis


  • karyokinesis

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Related term(s):

Related form(s):

  • mitotic (adjective)
  • mitotically (adverb)