Binary fission

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Loosely speaking, binary fission refers to a process of splitting into two parts that both become independent wholes. Specifically, it is described as follows:

Item Value
What kind of things undergo binary fission? organisms: all prokaryotes (all prokaryotes are unicellular organisms, but not all unicellular organisms are prokaryotic)
organelles: mitochondrion (comports with endosymbiotic theory of mitochondrial origin)
Quick summary of what happens For organisms: The organism (which is a single cell) splits into two organisms (i.e., two separate cells) that can function as completely independent organisms
For organelles: The organelle splits into two organelles that can function completely separate from each other
Another word for it Binary fission is the means of asexual reproduction practiced by prokaryotes.
Slightly more detailed description of process The single DNA molecule first replicates, then attaches each copy to a different part of the cell membrane. When the cell begins to pull apart, the replicate and original chromosomes are separated. The consequence of this asexual method of reproduction is that all the cells are genetically identical, i.e. have the same genetic material.

Related notions

  • Multiple fission: Unicellular eukaryotic organisms (i.e., protists) as well as some multicellular eukaryotic organisms( (i.e., algae), reproduce by means of multiple fission: the original cell splits into multiple pieces.
  • Cytokinesis: In eukaryotic multicellular organisms, cells do often split into two. This process, however, is called cytokinesis and is not called binary fission. It differs from binary fission in a number of ways. Most important, the goal is to create new cells that are still part of the same organism, not to create new independent organisms.