Binary fission is an asexual reproduction process that prokaryote organisms use to duplicate themselves. There is no exchange of genetic information between organisms during binary fission, so over time, populations can experience a lack of genetic diversity. To overcome this, one of the ways that prokaryotes like bacteria have developed to add genetic diversity to their DNA is conjugation. In this process, bacteria come into contact with each other by using hair-like structures called pili that are on the surface. Through a single pilus, one of the bacteria can transfer a DNA plasmid to the other. Two other methods that prokaryotes use to transfer DNA are transformation (they take up a fragment of DNA from the environment) and transduction (a piece of DNA is injected into the bacteria by a bacteriophage).

Comparison Chart

Binary FissionConjugation
What is it used for?Duplication of an organismDNA transfer between organisms
Used by prokaryotic organisms?YesYes
Used in sexual reproduction?NoNo
Recent adaptation?NoNo

Binary fission
The image above shows the process of binary fission.

Bacterial Conjugation
The image above shows how a bacterium uses a pilus to conjugate with another bacterium.


  • Fission (biology). (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved June 13, 2017 from
  • OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax. May 20, 2013.