ReproductionMost bacteria have the ability to reproduce very rapidly.
For example, given the right nutrients and ambient temperature, E. coli can reproduce every 20 minutes. The method used to reproduce is called binary fission and begins with the replication of DNA. Once completed, the two DNA molecules move toward opposite ends of the cell. The cytoplasm then divides to produce two equivalent daughter cells.
Another process that is often associated with reproduction is conjugation. Although this is not a form of reproduction per se, it can change the genetic make up of the bacterial cell. In conjugation, plasmid DNA is replicated and transferred from one bacterial cell to another via a special pilus, called a conjugation tube which connects the two cells. The plasmid carries bacterial genes that may alter the function of the recipient cell.
When the environmental conditions are not favorable for reproduction, some bacteria have the ability to form spores, which can preserve the cells. Once conditions improve, the bacterium begin to divide and multiply.