Bacteria: Various Forms of Reproduction
Reproduction of bacteria happens in two ways:
- Asexually, in a process called bipartition or cissiparity.
- Sexually, in processes that are called conjugation, transduction and transformation.
In bipartition or cissiparity, a bacterium divides into two other bacteria. Apparently there is an equal sharing of cytoplasmic content between the new beings. However, as genetic material is unique and cannot be divided in half without future damage, it doubles. An identical copy of the original DNA (genetic material) strand will belong to one of the daughter bacteria, while the original strand will remain with the other daughter bacteria.
As for the reproduction of bacteria that is in the sexual category, sex is defined as the transfer of parts of DNA from one bacterium to another.
In conjugation, two bacteria are close enough for a cytoplasmic bridge to emerge between them. Through this bridge, a portion of the DNA from one passes into the cytoplasm of the other, joining the recipient's DNA. This mixed genetic material will make up the DNA of daughter bacteria.
In transduction, the DNA donor bacteria must have been infected with a bacteriophage virus. This bacteriophage uses the bacteria to reproduce. However, the DNA of their offspring may incorporate parts of the DNA from the infected bacteria. These parts will be incorporated into the DNA of the recipient bacteria when it is infected by the daughter bacteriophages.
In transformation, a bacterium naturally incorporates free portions of DNA that are circulating in the environment. These portions are mixed with DNA itself, an action called competence. This mixed DNA is transferred to the daughter bacteria when this bacterium reproduces by bipartition. The evolutionary function of this incorporation of free parts of DNA is still a matter of debate among microbiologists.
Genetic engineering researchers take advantage of the competing property of bacteria to artificially modify the DNA of bacterial strains. Therefore, the reproduction of bacteria is very useful for this technology sector.