Asexual reproduction is a process of reproducing without sexual intercourse or the use of two different organisms to create an offspring. Most of the time, the offspring is a clone of a single parent, because it inherits the parent’s exact copy of its genes. Diatomic oceanic creatures multiply asexually, with every hard shell dividing and then completing itself. The next fresh shell to be produced is usually smaller than before. Before they vanish, they breed big diatoms again.
Plants with no pollinators resort to asexual reproduction as well. African violets, for example, multiply when torn leaf is covered with dust and dirt and then takes root. Animals that clone themselves do so through parthenogenesis, or breeding without a pairing with another animal. This is common among lizards, snakes and sharks that lack partners. The process is often viewed as recompense for shortage of species or partners. This reproductive process certainly has its share of advantages and disadvantages.
The Pros of Asexual Reproduction
1. Good characteristics are passed on
Because the offspring is identical to the parent, it will inherit whatever good genes a parent has – adaptable to different environments, the ability to survive and thrive, etc.
2. Creation of different forms
While offspring is considered a parent’s clone, genetic mutations often result in different extensive forms of an organism. This enables successful asexual reproduction in various settings.
3. Rapid reproduction
Reproducing asexually is quick and easy, simply because there aren’t a lot of things involved. A single parent doesn’t need to look for a mate in order to reproduce. They don’t need to move from one place to another to produce another offspring of a similar or different type. Moreover, asexual reproduction doesn’t require a lot of energy. Single parents can reproduce as many as they can in a short amount of time without the need to consider energy consumption. Once an organism finds a habitat and establishes itself, asexual reproduction can commence.
The Cons of Asexual Reproduction
1. Bad characteristics are passed on
Most of the time, you have to take the bad with the good. The same thing is true with asexual reproduction. Along with good genes are the bad ones that offspring will inherit – less able to thrive and survive in an environment, for example.
2. Lack of diversity
While others are able to create different forms, some organisms don’t. This results in creation of certain plants, animals and low-level invertebrates to be the same through and through, and over generations. The lack of other genes that come into the mix results in the lack of genetic diversity.
3. Inability to survive
Without genetic diversity, organisms are at risk of failing to survive in a changing environment. There is a high possibility that an entire community might not thrive and live long.
With the ability to reproduce rapidly, the risk of overpopulation and overcrowding is high. This is especially true because population in each and every cycle of reproduction will double. In an environment where food and other sources for survival are scarce, organisms will just wither and die.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.