The asexual reproduction of prokaryotic cells, such as bacteria and archaea, are examples of binary fission in cellular biology. The binary fission process involves a single cell copying its genetic information, then splitting into two new cells.
Before the binary fission process initiates, the DNA of the primary cell is replicated into two copies that come free of the nucleus. These two copies of the genetic material migrate to opposite sides of the cell. The copies of genetic material latch onto the cell wall. The cell swells, increasing the distance between the duplicated sets of genetic data. A new cell wall, called a septum, begins to grow down the middle of the cell, dividing it into two equal portions.
After the septum grows completely, the daughter cells may remain attached or separate completely, depending on the type of organism. The rate of the binary fission process depends on factors such as temperature, acidity, the abundance or absence of nutrients, and the type of organism. E. coli bacteria divide once every 15 minutes, while mycobacteria leprae divide once every two weeks. Because each new daughter cell can undergo binary fission on its own, binary fission can lead to exponential growth of the population if the division rate is higher than the mortality rate.