How does Bacteria Reproduce? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lindsey Spencer

Lindsey has taught regular and special educations students in grades 1-8 since 2009 and has a master's degree in special education.

In this lesson, you will learn about how the smallest living thing reproduces. You'll explore the most common way that bacteria reproduce, along with several unique ways bacteria reproduce.

What Are Bacteria?

Did you know that when you eat foods like yogurt or kimchi, you are also eating bacteria? But don't worry, keep eating that yummy food. This type of bacteria is good for your health.

Bacteria are single celled organisms, and they are teeny tiny. They're so small that you can't see them without using a microscope.

When you do look at them under a microscope, you'll see that bacteria kind of look like a pill or a capsule. The cell wall on the outside of the capsule shape protects the bacteria. On the inside of the bacteria, there is a gel that holds all the other parts it needs to survive and reproduce.

One of those important parts is DNA. DNA is something that every single living thing has. You can think of DNA as directions, or a blueprint. DNA tells cells what to do.

All bacteria reproduce by making an exact copy of themselves. But they make these copies in a couple of different ways.

Splitting in Two

The most common way that bacteria reproduce is by binary fission.

The first thing that happens in binary fission is that the bacteria makes a copy of all the stuff inside of it. Then the copies of all the stuff, including DNA, move to opposite sides of the bacteria. It would be very hard to split in half when all that important stuff is mixed up together.

Now that there are two sets of DNA and other important stuff, the bacteria starts to create a new cell wall down the middle and the two halves of the bacteria start to pull apart. When the two halves have completely pulled apart, the new bacteria is called a daughter. The daughter bacteria is an exact copy of the original bacteria, or the mother cell.

Bacteria reproducing with binary fission
binary fission

Full to Bursting

Bacteria can also reproduce in a couple of other strange ways.

For example, one bacteria, called Stanieria, reproduces in a very different way.

This bacteria starts out as a very small cell called a baeocyte. After a while, the baeocyte grows into a bigger cell.

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