Advantages and Disadvantages of Sexual and Asexual Reproduction

Advantages and Disadvantages of Sexual Reproduction

Produces genetic variation in the offspringIt takes more time and energy to find mates
The species can adapt to changes in the environment, as variation gives them a selective advantage by natural selectionIt is not possible for isolated individuals of the species to reproduce
Due to variation, disease is less likely to affect the whole populationThe offspring can have unfavourable characteristics
Selective breeding can speed up natural selection, which is beneficial for food production

Advantages and Disadvantages of Asexual Reproduction

Requires only one parentThere is no variation in the offspring
Does not require a mate, making it more time and energy efficientThe population is vulnerable to changes in the environment
Much faster than sexual reproductionIt is likely that disease will affect the whole population
Exploits favourable conditions, allowing the population to increase rapidlyThe species may only be suited to one habitat

Organisms that Reproduce Sexually and Asexually

There are some organisms that can use both sexual and asexual reproduction. For example:

  • The malaria parasite reproduces sexually inside the mosquito; however, it reproduces asexually inside the human host.
  • Many species of fungi reproduce sexually to introduce variation in their offspring, but they can also reproduce asexually. For asexual reproduction, they produce spores that get dispersed. The spores are usually transported by either insects or the wind.
  • Plants reproduce sexually using sperm cells (found inside pollen grains as the male gamete) and egg cells (female gamete). However, some plants can also reproduce asexually. For example, strawberry plants reproduce asexually by sending out runners. Once the runners touch the soil, they can develop into new plants genetically identical to the parent. Another way plants can reproduce asexually is by using bulbs (e.g. with daffodils).

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