A life cycle is the sequence of stages in the development of an organism from its formation to the creation of its offspring. It is followed by death. In organisms that reproduce sexually, formation corresponds to the fusion of sex cells (gametes) from the parents. The resulting zygote develops into an organism similar to the parents, which goes on to mature and produce new gametes that create the next generation.
In organisms that reproduce asexually (see asexual reproduction), formation occurs either through fission (simple division), budding, or vegetable reproduction. In plants, there is an alternation of generations in which the plants (gametophyte) generation differ from the spore-forming (sporophyte) generation.