This was a lab to learn about mitosis and meiosis, which are the processes by which all prokaryotes (bacteria and viruses), plants and animal cells duplicate themselves (make a copy). Mitosis is far more common than meiosis since it is the way cells make exact copies of themselves. Meiosis is only found in plants and animals and is the basis of sexual production, or mixing up the DNA so there is more variation in the next generation. Without meiosis, we would be carbon copies of our parent/parents, so it is an important part of life on Earth! In any case, we are hoping to see mitosis under the microscope, and we will do this by growing garlic cloves in water and tea (to see the effect of caffeine on mitosis) and then staining the root tips on a slide to examine under a microscope. Root tips are constantly duplicating themselves when they are growing, so they give us a good opportunity to see mitosis in action.
Mitosis isn’t just dividing the cell in half, it also has to duplicate the DNA and divide that as well. In the picture below, you see “fingers” of DNA lining up so each side of the cell contains one copy of DNA prior to division. SO COOL!