Which Organisms Can Reproduce by Fragmentation?

Fragmentation, also known as asexual reproduction, is an effective means of reproduction used by many species such as plants, some worms, molds, bacteria and some marine invertebrates. Lower, less complex animal species such as fungi and yeasts also utilize fragment reproduction.

Simple animal species such as Asteroids, or starfish; ophiuroids, or brittlestars; and holothurians, or sea cucumbers, reproduce by way of fragmentation when splitting apart one body into two distinct separate pieces. Starfish also use regeneration of injured, torn appendages by fragmentation.

Prokaryotic organisms such as parasitic tapeworms, ribbon worms and flat worms, polyps forming the base of coral reefs and free-floating jellyfish use binary fission as a form of fragmentation. Other organisms using fragmentation include annelid worms, filamentous cyanobacteria and some multicellular metazoans, including mitochondrial eukaryotes.

Many plant species also use vegetative fragmentation to reproduce. Examples of plants that use vegetative fragmentation include liverworts from the genus Marchantia. Many plants such as raspberries, ferns, non-woody perennials and even the urban dandelion weed Taraxacum officinale utilize fragmentation for vegetative reproduction. Manual root ball splitting, grafting and transplanting of smaller plant fragments from a large plant by humans can also be effective ways of using asexual fragmentation to propagate plant species.