How do bacteria reproduce?
Disease-causing bacteria can spread like wildfire
Bacteria are microorganisms that are singled-celled and which thrive in various types of environments, including your body. Some types of bacteria prefer extremes of heat or cold while others opt to live in the intestines of humans, where they assist in digesting food. Most bacteria are good and do not cause harm. However, some bacteria will cause bacterial infections such as strep throat, tuberculosis and infections in the urinary tract.
Using antibiotics too often can create certain strains of bacterial disease that become resistant to treatment via antibiotics. MRSA, the super bacteria, is an excellent example. Many harmful bacteria and the illnesses that they cause can be prevented with medications, including vaccines.
Bacteria have a real knack for reproducing. Bacterial microorganisms not only reproduce quickly but easily. It is important to clean household surfaces with anti-bacterial cleansers, especially those that are eco-friendly and do not exacerbate allergies or other health issues. Anti-bacterial soap and sanitizers are also useful in fighting the rapid reproduction of bacteria. Keeping your living environment, especially the indoor air, helps combat harmful bacteria.
The rapid rate at which bacteria reproduce makes them extremely adaptable. There are methods of reproduction, including binary fission and budding, which are both simple and fast. Under unfavorable circumstances, the bacteria can form very resistant spores which have thickened coverings. Inside the thickened coverings reside living material that is dormant and remains in a distorted form until conditions get better.
The process of binary fission involves bacterium copying its DNA to make a precise duplication. It then partitions itself in two. The bacterium has actually cloned itself. This method happens so quickly that just one microorganism can make a billion just like itself in approximately 10 hours, if the conditions are ideal. When asexual reproduction occurs, this involves one bacterium parent. Its offspring are exactly the same as the parent. Sexual reproduction requires the joining of two parent cells. They exchange genetic materials and the offspring will be a mixture of the two parent cells.
The process of budding is also quick and easy. A bud forms out of the side of the microorganism and then the mother makes a nucleus specifically for the bud via mitosis. Mitosis is a process during which a eukaryotic cell separates the chromosomes in the nucleus of the cell. The nucleus is then given to the bud and it breaks off. Voila! Another microorganism is created.
Budding and binary fission are, additionally, forms of asexual reproduction because a clone is created. The bacterium does not need to swap DNA when asexual reproduction occurs; however, it is hard for bacteria to evolve. Consequently, conjugation occurs and enables the DNA to be exchanged between two different bacteria. Conjugation means that bacteria come together and exchange genetic material. Once this occurs, each cell will proceed through the process of binary fission to produce an offspring with new genetic make-up.
Two bacteria are involved when conjugation occurs. One bacterium extends a long tubule or pilus to exchange DNA to the other bacterium and they then swap some of their DNA. The pilus is the removed and the bacteria go on their merry way. Each has picked up traits from the other and these traits make it easier for them to adapt to diverse environments.