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10.3: Binary Fission
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10.3: Binary Fission

Fission is the division of a single entity into two or more parts, which regenerate into separate entities that resemble the original. Organisms in the Archaea and Bacteria domains reproduce using binary fission, in which a parent cell splits into two parts that can each grow to the size of the original parent cell. This asexual method of reproduction produces cells that are all genetically identical.

The speed of Bacterial Fission

Though its speed varies among species, binary fission is generally rapid and can yield staggering growth. In the amount of time it takes bacterial cells to undergo binary fission, the number of cells in the bacterial culture doubles. Thus, this period is the doubling time. For example, Escherichia coli cells typically divide every 20 minutes. Bacterial growth, however, is limited by factors including nutrient and space availability. Thus, binary fission occurs at much lower rates in bacterial cultures that have encountered a growth-limiting factor (i.e., entered a stationary growth phase).

Fission of Organelles in Eukaryotic Cells

In addition to organisms in the Archaea and Bacteria domains, some organelles in eukaryotic cells also reproduce via binary fission. Mitochondria, for example, divide by prokaryotic binary fission. This process requires the division of mitochondrial proteins and DNA.

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