mitosismītō´sĭs, mĭ– [key], process of nuclear division in a living cell by which the carriers of hereditary information, or the chromosomes, are exactly replicated and the two copies distributed to identical daughter nuclei. Mitosis is almost always accompanied by cell division (cytokinesis), and the latter is sometimes considered a part of the mitotic process. The pattern of mitosis is fundamentally the same in all cells. However, while animal cells apparently divide by pinching into two separate cells, plant cells develop a cell plate, which becomes a cellulose cell wall between the two daughter cells. The importance of mitosis is the maintenance of the chromosomal set; each cell formed receives chromosomes that are alike in composition and equal in number to the chromosomes of the parent cell.
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