How Do Prokaryotic Cells Divide?

Prokaryotic cells divide by replicating a single DNA molecule, attaching each copy to opposite sides of the cell and then forming new cell membranes along the middle of the cell to divide into two new, genetically identical daughter cells, says Estrella Mountain Community College. This process is called binary fission.

Prokaryotic cells are cells without nuclei, such as bacteria, according to Estrella Mountain Community College. They have much simpler genetic codes than eukaryotic cells, such as those found in animals and plants, that have nuclei and many other organelles. Because prokaryotic cells are so much simpler in structure than eukaryotic cells, cell division is also simpler and contains fewer steps than the mitosis that is most common in eukaryotic cell division. Prokaryotic cells only reproduce asexually.

Despite the differences between the two types of cells, there are many basic similarities between binary fission and mitosis. In both cases, replicated genetic material and other cell components are moved to opposite sides of the cell, and are then separated by newly formed cell membranes, creating two identical daughter cells. The genetic material in eukaryotic cells is bound in the nucleus, however, and is separated into several chromosomes rather than a single DNA molecule.