Do Bacteria Have Sex?

The article is a basic introduction to the different types of cell division that occur by different cell cycles. The primary focus of the article is bacteria which has a controversial question revolving around it about whether or not is sexually reproduce
        The cell cycle is a series of events that occur within a cell leading to replication (a combination of replication and division).  The method by which a cell undergoes replication is dependent on whether or not the cell contains a nucleus. Eukaryotic cells (contain a nucleus) undergo a cell cycle in which mitosis is the main division. The cell undergoes a preliminary phase referred to as interphase during which it engages in growth via nutrient accumulation and replicating its DNA.  Then the cell divides during the mitotic process and the end result is two daughter cells. Sexual reproduction, a primarily eukaryotic practice, involves an egg becoming fertilized by sperm to create a zygote.  This zygote then undergoes several cell cycles to grow into a fully developed organism. The process by which prokaryotic cells (those that do not contain a nucleus) undergo their cell cycle is referred to as binary fission.  Binary fission is a type of asexual reproduction (only one parent) that all prokaryotes undergo. It involves an original cell dividing into two cells that have the capacity to develop to the size and structure of the original cell from which they came.

            Bacteria, by classification, are prokaryotic organisms. Judging by this fact alone, one might be inclined to say that they would exclusively undergo asexual reproduction, however this is not a simple question. While the primary method of bacterial cell cycle is binary fission, there are three other methods, which are not so asexual in theory or practice. The genetics of a bacterium are fairly simple, where most bacteria have one circular chromosome. Bacteria have the ability to exchange their genetic material with other cells through three different processes known as transformation, transduction, and conjugation. Transformation involves bacteria absorbing DNA from the environment and encoding it into it’s own chromosome. Transduction is a process in which a bacteriophage attaches itself to a bacterium and can inject its own (or foreign) DNA into the bacteria and alter its genetics. The third way, conjugation, is cell-to-cell contact in which two bacteria will physically connect to one another and exchange DNA in what is known as horizontal gene transfer.  Because of the different ways in which bacteria can acquire DNA and replicate itself, it is not possible to say for sure whether or not they really undergo sexual reproduction or not. The easiest answer would be not really but partially.


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