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Binary Fission
E. coli bacterium undergoing binary fission.

E. coli bacteria undergoing binary fission. The cell wall is dividing resulting in the formation of two cells.

Janice Carr/CDC
Most prokaryotes reproduce asexually through a process called binary fission. During binary fission, the single DNA molecule replicates and the original cell is divided into two identical cells.
  • Binary fission begins with the single DNA molecule replicating and both copies attaching to the cell membrane.

  • Next, the cell membrane begins to grow between the two DNA molecules. Once the bacterium just about doubles its original size, the cell membrane begins to pinch inward.

  • A cell wall then forms between the two DNA molecules dividing the original cell into two identical daughter cells.
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