Reproduction - Encyclopedia

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REPRODUCTION, in biology, the generation of new organisms from existing organisms more or less similar. It is a special case of growth, and consists of an increase of living substance in such fashion that the new substance is either set free as a new individual, or, whilst remaining attached to the parent organism, separated by some sort of partition so as to have a subordinate individuality. Y. Delage has distinguished as multiplication those cases in which the new individual arises from a mass of cells which remain a part of the maternal tissues during differentiation, reserving the term reproduction for those cases in which the spore or cell which is the starting-point of the new individual begins by separating from the maternal tissues; but the distinction is inconvenient in practice and does not appear to carry with it any fundamental biological significance. The general relation between parent and filial organisms is discussed under Heredity and Embryology; many of the details of the cellular processes are dealt with under Cytology, and the modes of reproduction exhibited by different kinds of animals and plants are treated of in the various articles describing individual groups. Finally, some of the special problems involved are discussed under the heading SEX. As reproduction is a general biological phenomenon, its manifestations should be dealt with simultaneously in the case of animals and plants, but many of the special details differ so much that it is practically convenient to make two headings.

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