General Interview Questions - Life Cycles

1. How do germ cells differ from somatic cells?
2. How would you define a gamete? How are gametes produced?
3. How are male and female different? how are they the same?

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1. The life cycle of an organism begins with its appearance and ends with its death.
2. The simplest of life cycles are asexual and involve a process of fission, budding or fragmentation such that each offspring receives a complete copy of the genome plus necessary cytoplasmic organelles, such as the chloroplasts and mitochondria of eukaryotes.
3. A version of an asexual life cycle involves the formation of alternative vegetative state, such as a spore. Spores are passive (non-reproducing) but under appropriate conditions can give rise to normally dividing organisms.
4. In an asexual organism, changes to the genome can occur only through mutation or horizontal gene transfer.
5. The process of sex involves genetic recombination between two (or more) distinct organisms. In the most common form, sex involves the fusion of gametes from two distinct individuals.
6. Gametes are haploid cells; typically gametes can fuse through the process of syngamy/fertilization to form a diploid cell.
7. In organisms with a haplontic life cycle, the diploid (sporophytic) phase is transient and mitosis only occurs in the haploid (gametophytic) phase.
8. In organisms with a haplodiplontic life cycle, mitosis can during either the haploid or the diploid phase of the life cycle.
9. Most animals are diplontic. Mitosis occurs only in the diploid phase of the life cycle and the haploid gametophytic phase is transient ending in fertilization or death.
10. The germ line of an organism gives rise to germ cells, which in turn produce the gametes and supporting cells.
11. In many animals, the germ cells arise in one location and migrate to the male (testes) and female (ovary) sexual organs. Testes produce sperm while ovaries produce eggs, both of which produce haploid pronuclei which fuse to form a diploid nucleus.
12. Gametes can be similar in size (isogamous organisms) or very different (anisogamous). It is conventional to call the individual that produces the larger gametes (eggs) female and the smaller gametes (sperm) male.
13. The egg contains the bulk of the cytoplasm present in the new diploid organism formed upon fertilization. In particular, it is common that mitochondria are supplied only by the egg.
14. Eggs are typically non-motile, sperm motile.
15. A number of different mechanism are used to insure that an egg is fertilized by only a single sperm; fertilization of an egg by multiple sperm generally leads to severe developmental abnormalities.

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