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Reproduction In Protista and Life Cycle

Reproduction in Protista

  • Cell division in protists, as in plant and animal cells, is not a straightforward process, despite appearances to the contrary. Asexual binary fission is the typical form of reproduction for the majority of the main protistan species.
  • The body of an individual protist is simply divided into two halves or halves; the “parental” body vanishes and is replaced by a pair of offspring or daughter nuclei, although the latter may need to mature before they can be identified as members of the parental species.
  • The duration of the binary fission process varies between groups of organisms and environmental conditions, ranging from a few hours under perfect settings to several days under less favourable ones. Some unicellular algae protists reproduce via fragmentation.
  • Mitotic replications of nuclear material in protists likely accompany or precede all cytoplasmic divisions (cytokinesis).
  • Multiple fission is also observed in protists and is prevalent in a number of parasitic species. The nucleus splits frequently to create a number of daughter nuclei, which, after successive cellular divisions, become the nuclei of the progeny.
  • There are numerous types of multiple fission, which are frequently connected with phases or stages of the life cycle of a particular species. The number of offspring or filial products emerging from a multiple division (or extremely rapid succession of binary fissions) can range from four to dozens or even hundreds, typically in a short amount of time.
  • Modes of such multiple fission include budding, in which a daughter nucleus is generated and separated from the parent along with a portion of the surrounding cytoplasm, sporogony (creation of sporozoites by repeated divisions of a zygote), and schizogony (formation of multiple merozoites, as in malarial parasites).
  • Many protists that are obligatory parasites of more complex eukaryotes exhibit the latter two features. Certain multicellular algal protists reproduce asexually via spores, which are frequently formed by a sequence of fast fissions.
  • Several kinds of protists have distinct methods of division, which can be observed even with a simple microscope. Flagellates, for instance, display longitudinal, or mirror-image, fission (symmetrogenic fission).
  • The ciliates, on the other hand, divide in a point-by-point correspondence of parts (homothetogenic fission), which is typically regarded as primarily transverse or perkinetal (across the kineties, or ciliary rows). Many amoebas lack distinct body symmetry or polarity, therefore their fission is essentially simpler and does not fall into either of the categories outlined above.
  • Sexual phenomena are familiar to protozoans. The misconception that virtually all protists reproduce asexually is due to the fact that some well-known organisms, such as species belonging to the genus Euglena, lack sexuality. Several unicellular creatures can, under the right circumstances, create gametes (sex cells) that unite and give rise to a new, genetically distinct generation.
  • In fact, sexual reproduction — the union of two gametes (syngamy) — is the most prevalent sexual phenomena and is quite widespread among protists, including several flagellates, pseudopods, and parasitic phyla (e.g., in Plasmodium, a malaria-causing organism).
  • Conjugation, the second primary type of sexual phenomena that occurs in ciliated protists, has identical genetic and evolutionary outcomes to syngamy. The procedure involves the fusion of gametic nuclei as opposed to the formation of individual gamete cells.
  • Not a real zygote, but a zygotic or fusion nucleus undergoes a series of meiotic divisions to form a number of haploid pronuclei; all but one of these pronuclei will disintegrate in each organism. The surviving pronuclei divide mitotically; one pronucleus from each organism is exchanged, and the next generation’s micronuclei and macronuclei are created.
  • Following the exchange of pronuclei and subsequent production of new micronuclei and macronuclei in each organism, each exconjugant line undergoes a series of asexual fissions accompanied by mitotic divisions of the newly formed diploid micronuclei.
  • In the first of these divisions, the resultant polyploid macronuclei are spread passively; in succeeding fission, the macronuclei duplicate through a sort of mitosis. This final stage represents the single reproduction in the process.
  • Conjugation as described above is mainly restricted to ciliates, and the method in which it is expressed varies considerably among them. For instance, the size of the two ciliates (called macroconjugants and microconjugants) may vary, as may the number of predivisions of the micronuclei and the number of nuclear divisions that occur after the zygotic nucleus is established.
  • In addition, chemical signals (gamones) are given or exchanged prior to conjugation between two protists. It is unknown if these gamones should be categorised as sex pheromones, comparable to those found in many animals (such as certain insects), but they appear to have the same function of enticing or bringing together distinct mating kinds.
  • While conjugation may be considered a process of reciprocal fertilisation, a similar sexual phenomena in ciliates that occurs in solitary, unpaired individuals may be termed a self-fertilization process. With this type of fertilisation, known as autogamy, the offspring of a single parent have perfect homozygosity.
  • Protist life cycles range from those involving merely periodic binary fissions to those involving asexual and sexual phases, encystment and excystment, and — in the case of many symbiotic and parasitic forms — the alternation of hosts.
  • Particularly in more complex life cycles, the organism’s morphology may vary dramatically from phase to phase (polymorphism) over its whole life cycle. In certain ciliate groups in which a larval or migratory form (known as a swarmer) is formed by the parent, the progeny may exhibit strikingly distinct appearance.
  • Algal protists are more likely than protozoan protists to have dormant periods in their life cycle. Such stages, which are somewhat comparable to hibernation in mammals, serve to conserve the species during unfavourable situations, such as little food or severe temperatures.
  • Hence, the occurrence of resistant cysts in the vegetative stage is dependent on environmental conditions such as season, temperature, light, water, and nutrient availability. The fertilised egg, or zygote, may also enter a latent state in a number of algal families (a zygospore).
  • Some protist species are also capable of forming temporary or permanent cysts. Many sporozoa and members of other completely parasitic phyla create a very resistant stage, such as the oocyst of coccidian parasites, which may live for an extended period of time in the faeces of the host or in the soil. This cyst is the infective stage of the parasite’s life cycle for the next host.
  • Certain life cycles entail not only several hosts, but also a vector – a specific metazoan organism that can act as an active or passive carrier of the parasite to the next host. In the case of malaria, a mosquito is required to transmit the Plasmodium species to the subsequent vertebrate host.

Methods of Reproduction in Protists

The following paragraphs emphasise the two essential reproductive strategies of protists. The procedures are:

  1. Asexual Reproduction
    • Binary Fission
    • Multiple Fission
    • Budding
  2. Sexual Reproduction

A. Asexual Reproduction in Protists

  • The Kingdom Protista classifies a wide variety of unicellular and multicellular organisms as protists. It is known that protists reproduce by a number of ways, including asexual reproduction. In protists, asexual reproduction is the creation of offspring without fertilisation and the involvement of gametes.
  • Protists reproduce asexually through several processes, including binary fission, multiple fission, budding, and sporulation.
  • The most prevalent form of asexual reproduction among protists is binary fission. It involves a single cell dividing into two identical daughter cells. The nucleus of the parent cell undergoes mitosis and the cytoplasm divides during binary fission, resulting in two identical daughter cells.
  • Multiple fission is a type of asexual reproduction in which a parent cell concurrently divides into numerous daughter cells. This process is observed in species such as Plasmodium, which causes malaria. In this instance, the parent cell undergoes several mitotic divisions to produce numerous daughter cells that are genetically identical.
  • Another kind of asexual reproduction in protists is budding. During budding, a tiny bud or protrusion forms on the parent cell and eventually matures into a genetically similar daughter cell. This technique is prevalent in organisms such as yeasts.
  • Certain protists, particularly slime moulds, engage in sporulation, a specialised form of asexual reproduction. During this procedure, the parent cell generates spores from which genetically identical daughter cells can emerge.
  • Protists benefit from asexual reproduction because it enables rapid reproduction and population growth under favourable conditions. Nevertheless, this also means that there is limited genetic diversity among the progeny, which might make the population more vulnerable to environmental changes and disease.
  • In conclusion, asexual reproduction is a common and significant mode of protist reproduction. Protists create progeny without the requirement for fertilisation by a variety of processes, including binary fission, multiple fission, budding, and sporulation.

Mode of Asexual Reproduction In Protista

1. Binary Fission

Mitosis is the division of the parent cell into two identical daughter cells. Examples: Amoeba, Euglena and Paramecium.

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  • Asexual reproduction characterised by the division of a single cell into two identical daughter cells. This mechanism is widely observed in bacteria, archaea, and protists. It is a straightforward and effective mode of reproduction that allows these creatures to increase their population quickly.
  • The process of binary fission commences with DNA replication in the cell. The DNA is subsequently divided into two sets, one for each daughter cell. The cell membrane then invaginates or pinches inward, separating the cell into two equal pieces. The process of binary fission concludes with the formation of a new cell wall between the daughter cells.
  • It just takes a few minutes for some bacteria to split by binary fission, which is a pretty rapid process. The two daughter cells are genetically identical to the parent cell, guaranteeing that the genetic information is accurately passed on.
  • For the survival of many single-celled organisms, binary fission is an essential mechanism. It permits them to grow rapidly and efficiently, helping them to compete for resources and thrive in a variety of conditions. But, it has limitations as well. Because binary fission creates offspring that are genetically identical, it does not allow for genetic variation, which is required for adaptation to changing surroundings.
  • In conclusion, binary fission is an asexual reproduction technique that permits single-celled organisms to grow their population fast. It is a straightforward and quick technique that ensures precise transmission of genetic information, but it has disadvantages, such as a lack of genetic diversity.

2. Multiple Fission

It is the separation of a parent organism into several daughter organisms. Examples: Amoeba and Plasmodium.

  • Multiple fission is a type of asexual reproduction when a single cell divides simultaneously into numerous daughter cells. This mechanism is frequently observed in protists, such as amoebas and a few species of algae.
  • Multiple fission begins with the replication of DNA within the cell, much as binary fission does. But, rather of dividing into two daughter cells, the cell divides simultaneously into numerous daughter cells. This results in the production of several daughter cells that are genetically similar.
  • In certain instances, daughter cells may remain linked to one another and form a colony. In other instances, the daughter cells may detach and continue to exist as independent organisms.
  • Multiple fission is crucial to the survival of numerous protists. It permits them to grow rapidly and efficiently, helping them to compete for resources and thrive in a variety of conditions. But, it has limitations as well. Multiple fission does not provide genetic variation, which is essential for adaptation to changing circumstances, because it creates genetically identical offspring.
  • Multiple fission is a form of asexual reproduction that permits certain protists to grow their population quickly. It is a straightforward and quick technique that ensures precise transmission of genetic information, but it has disadvantages, such as a lack of genetic diversity.

3. Plasmotomy

It is the splitting of the cytoplasm of a multinucleate protist into two or more multinucleate progeny without nuclear division. It is found in Opalina.

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  • Plasmotomy is an asexual reproductive process in ciliates and some fungi. In the process of plasmotomy, the parent cell divides into two or more daughter cells without nuclear separation. This results in the production of numerous daughter cells, each of which contains a piece of the cytoplasm of the parent cell.
  • During plasmotomy, the cytoplasm of the parent cell is partitioned into two or more parts by an inwards growing membrane. Each part of cytoplasm then wraps itself in a new cell membrane, producing two or more daughter cells.
  • Plasmotomy, unlike binary and multiple fission, does not entail the division of the nucleus. Instead, the nucleus of the parent cell is preserved and may continue to function in the daughter cells.
  • Plasmotomy is essential to the survival of numerous single-celled organisms. It permits them to grow rapidly and efficiently, helping them to compete for resources and thrive in a variety of conditions. But, it has limitations as well. Plasmotomy does not provide genetic variation, which is important for adaptation to changing circumstances, because it generates daughter cells with identical genetic material.
  • Plasmotomy is an asexual reproduction technique that allows some single-celled organisms to rapidly expand their population size. It involves the division of the cytoplasm of the parent cell into two or more sections, resulting in the formation of several daughter cells. However, this process does not include the division of the nucleus and so does not result in genetic diversity.

4. Spore Formation

Some protists reproduce asexually by producing spores. Spores have a coating to protect them from unfavourable environments. Each spore gives rise to a new individual upon germination. Example: Slime moulds.

  • Spore formation is a form of asexual reproduction seen in fungi, algae, and some plants. Spores are specialised cells that, given favourable conditions, can grow into new individuals.
  • The parent organism creates spores that are released into the environment during spore production. These spores can be transported over great distances via air, water, and other means. After the spore reaches an appropriate habitat, it can germinate and form a new individual.
  • The generation of spores can occur in various ways, depending on the organism. In fungus, for instance, spores are formed by specialised structures known as sporangia, which are frequently found at the tips of specialised structures known as hyphae. The sporangia release the spores into the environment, allowing for their dispersion.
  • Spores are frequently formed by plants in specialised structures known as sporangia or within reproductive structures known as cones. Then, the spores might be disseminated by wind or other ways.
  • The generation of spores is vital to the survival of many species. It enables them to reproduce without a mate and disseminate their offspring over great distances. Yet, spore production has restrictions as well. Due to the fact that spores are genetically identical to the parent organism, genetic variety, which is important for adaptability to changing circumstances, is not possible.
  • In conclusion, spore formation is a type of asexual reproduction that permits certain organisms to reproduce without a mate. It involves the formation and spread of specialised cells known as spores, which, under favourable conditions, can grow into new individuals. It does not, however, allow for genetic diversity, which can hinder an organism’s ability to adapt to changing conditions.

5. Budding

In the process of budding, a little offshoot of the parent body separates and grows into a new person. Example: Arcella (a sarcodine)

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Reproduction In Protista and Life Cycle
Reproduction In Protista and Life Cycle
  • The process of budding is a sort of asexual reproduction in which a new organism arises from the parent. It is a prevalent mode of reproduction in certain invertebrates, such as hydra, as well as certain forms of yeast.
  • A tiny protrusion or bud emerges on the parent organism during the process of budding. The bud grows and develops into a new individual with the same genetic makeup as the parent. The new creature remains linked to the parent organism for a period of time before becoming independent and living on its own.
  • In some instances, the bud may detach from the parent organism before it has fully matured, allowing it to continue growing and maturing on its own. In some instances, the bud may remain attached to the parent organism and establish a colony.
  • The process of budding is vital to the survival of many species. It enables them to reproduce without a mate and to remain near to the parent organism, which can give protection and assistance during early development.
  • Yet, growth has its limitations. Because the offspring is genetically identical to the parent, genetic variety, which is important for adaptability to changing surroundings, is not possible.
  • In summary, budding is a form of asexual reproduction in which a new organism develops from the parent. In several invertebrates and yeast, it is a prevalent form of reproduction. Although it permits organisms to reproduce without a mate and offers support during early development, it does not permit genetic variation.

B. Sexual Reproduction

  • It began with protists. Meiosis, which reduces the number of chromosomes from 2n to in, and fertilisation, or the fusing of two in gametes to form a 2n zygote, are the two main processes involved in sexual reproduction (fertilized egg).
  • Meiosis is crucial for sexual reproduction because it halves the number of chromosomes in gametes so that the number of chromosomes in a species remains constant after fertilisation.

Methods of Sexual Reproduction in Protista

There are two methods of sexual reproduction:

1. Syngamy

It involves the full fusing of two gametes to form diploid zygotes.

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  • Fertilization, also known as syngamy, is the process by which two gametes, normally a male and a female, combine to form a zygote. This mechanism is crucial for the sexual reproduction of many creatures, including humans, animals, and certain plants.
  • Gametes, which are haploid cells with half the amount of chromosomes as normal cells, come together and unite during syngamy. This results in the creation of a zygote with chromosomes from both parents.
  • Syngamy normally happens internally in animals, either through sexual activity or other modes of transferring gametes, such as spawning in fish or external fertilisation in certain invertebrates. Syngamy can occur in plants through many methods, such as pollination and self-fertilization.
  • Syngamy is a crucial component of sexual reproduction because it promotes genetic variation in offspring. Each parent imparts a distinct set of genes to their offspring, resulting in a vast array of genetic combinations. This genetic variety is vital for species’ survival and adaptation to changing environments.
  • In conclusion, syngamy is the merging of two gametes, usually a male and a female, to generate a zygote. This process is crucial for sexual reproduction and enables genetic variation in offspring, which is essential for species survival and adaptation.
  • Syngamy comes in three varieties:
    • Isogamy (two fusing gametes are similar e.g., Monocystis),
    • Anisogamy (two fusing gametes are distinct, such as in the case of Ceratium) and Homogamy
    • Oogamy  (large non-motile ga­metes are fertilized by smaller motile gametes, e.g., Plasmodium).

2. Conjugation

It is the temporary union of two individuals in order to swap their haploid pronuclear nuclei for the nucleus of a zygote. By means of binary fission, each individual with a zygote nucleus generates an invidious daughter. It can be found in Paramecium.

  • Conjugation is the process by which certain bacteria and protozoa exchange genetic material. It is a form of sexual reproduction that enables the exchange of genetic material between two individuals, hence increasing genetic variety.
  • During conjugation, two individuals come into touch and develop a brief link, usually via a specialised structure known as the pilus. Then, one of the individuals transfers a part of its genetic material, usually a plasmid, to the other. This transfer of genetic information can result in the recipient obtaining new characteristics or skills.
  • Crucial to the survival and evolution of bacterial and protozoan populations is the process of conjugation. It permits the exchange of genetic material, which can lead to a rise in genetic diversity and the development of novel traits that may be advantageous in various contexts.
  • Yet, conjugation has restrictions as well. It is a rather sluggish process compared to other types of reproduction since it relies on the transmission of genetic material between two individuals. In addition, it necessitates the existence of two individuals with different mating types, which may hinder a population’s capacity to adapt to changing surroundings.
  • Conjugation is a sort of sexual reproduction observed in certain bacteria and protozoa. It involves the transfer of genetic material between two individuals, leading to an increase in genetic variety and the acquisition of new characteristics. Although this is a crucial process for the survival and evolution of these populations, it has limitations.

Life Cycles of Protists

  • Protists reproduce by diverse ways. Most reproduce asexually, such as by binary fission, to create two daughter cells. In protists, binary fission can be transverse or longitudinal, depending on the orientation of the axis; Paramecium sometimes demonstrates this approach. Certain protists, such as real slime moulds, are capable of multiple fission and concurrently split into a large number of daughter cells. Others develop little buds that divide and expand to the size of the original protist.
  • Sexual reproduction, involving meiosis and fertilisation, is frequent among protists, and many protist species may flip between asexual and sexual reproduction as needed. Sexual reproduction is frequently linked to periods of nutritional depletion or environmental change. Sexual reproduction may allow protists to recombine genes and produce new progeny, some of which may be better adapted to living in a new or changing environment. Yet, sexual reproduction is frequently accompanied with protective, resting cysts that are resistant. Depending on the species’ habitat, the cysts may be especially resistant to severe temperatures, desiccation, or low pH. Because cysts exhibit essentially little cellular metabolism, this method permits certain protists to “wait out” stressors until their environment becomes more suitable for survival or until they are moved (such as by wind, water, or transport by a bigger organism) to a different environment.
  • Life cycles of protists range from simple to exceedingly complex. Some parasitic protists have complex life cycles and must infect distinct host species at various phases of development in order to complete their life cycle. Certain protists are unicellular in their haploid state and multicellular in their diploid state, similar to the method utilised by mammals. Similar to plants, other protists have multicellular phases in both haploid and diploid forms, a mechanism known as alternation of generations.

Life Cycle of Slime Molds

  • Life cycles of protists range from simple to exceedingly complex. Some parasitic protists have complex life cycles and must infect distinct host species at various phases of development in order to complete their life cycle.
  • Some protists are unicellular in their haploid form and multicellular in their diploid form, a strategy utilised by animals as well. Some protists have both haploid and diploid multicellular phases, a method known as alternation of generations that is also employed by plants.

Plasmodial slime molds

  • On the basis of their life cycles, slime moulds are classified as plasmodial or cellular forms. At their feeding stage, plasmodial slime moulds consist of huge, multinucleate cells that slide around surfaces like an amorphous blob of slime.
  • The slime mould glides while lifting and ingesting food particles, often bacteria. During maturation, the plasmodium assumes a net-like appearance and is able to produce sporangia, or fruiting bodies, during times of stress.
  • Meiosis generates haploid spores in sporangia. Spores disperse via the air or water in an attempt to reach more favourable settings.
  • If this occurs, the spores germinate into amoeboid or flagellate haploid cells that can join to form a diploid zygotic slime mould and complete the life cycle.
Reproduction In Protista and Life Cycle
Reproduction In Protista and Life Cycle

Cellular slime molds

  • When nutrients are abundant, the cellular slime moulds act as independent amoeboid cells. When food is scarce, cellular slime moulds form a slug-like mass of cells that behaves as a single organism.
  • Some slug cells contribute to a 2–3-millimeter stalk, which dries up and dies. Asexual fruiting organism containing haploid spores, formed by cells atop the stalk.
  • Similar to plasmodial slime moulds, the spores are dispersed and can germinate in damp environments. Dictyostelium is a typical genus of the cellular slime moulds and is usually found in moist forest soil.
Cellular slime mold life cycle
Cellular slime mold life cycle

Habitats of Various Protists

There are about one hundred thousand described species of protists. The majority of protists inhabit watery habitats, such as freshwater and marine environments, moist soil, and even snow. Paramecia are an example of a common aquatic protist. Owing of their prevalence and convenience as research organisms, they are frequently studied in classrooms and laboratories. In addition to aquatic protists, a number of species of protists are parasites that infect animals or plants and hence inhabit their hosts. Amoebas can be human parasites, and their presence in the small intestine can induce dysentery. Some protist species feed on dead organisms or their waste and aid in their decomposition. Over one thousand species of slime mould grow on bacteria and fungi within decaying trees and other plants in forests throughout the world, contributing to the cycle of life in these ecosystems.

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MCQ

Which of the following is a type of asexual reproduction in protists?
a. Syngamy
b. Conjugation
c. Binary fission
d. Spore formation
Answer: c. Binary fission

In which type of asexual reproduction does a single cell divide into multiple daughter cells?
a. Binary fission
b. Multiple fission
c. Budding
d. Plasmotomy
Answer: b. Multiple fission

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Which type of asexual reproduction involves the formation of a small outgrowth on the parent cell?
a. Binary fission
b. Multiple fission
c. Budding
d. Plasmotomy
Answer: c. Budding

In which type of asexual reproduction does the nucleus of a single cell divide multiple times?
a. Binary fission
b. Multiple fission
c. Budding
d. Plasmotomy
Answer: d. Plasmotomy

Which of the following is a type of sexual reproduction in protists?
a. Binary fission
b. Multiple fission
c. Syngamy
d. Budding
Answer: c. Syngamy

In which type of sexual reproduction do two individuals exchange genetic material?
a. Syngamy
b. Conjugation
c. Spore formation
d. Binary fission
Answer: b. Conjugation

Which type of sexual reproduction involves the production of spores?
a. Syngamy
b. Conjugation
c. Spore formation
d. Binary fission
Answer: c. Spore formation

Which type of life cycle involves primarily haploid individuals?
a. Haplontic life cycle
b. Diplontic life cycle
c. Haploid-diploid life cycle
d. None of the above
Answer: a. Haplontic life cycle

In which type of life cycle does the protist exist primarily in a diploid state?
a. Haplontic life cycle
b. Diplontic life cycle
c. Haploid-diploid life cycle
d. None of the above
Answer: b. Diplontic life cycle

Which type of life cycle involves both haploid and diploid stages of development?
a. Haplontic life cycle
b. Diplontic life cycle
c. Haploid-diploid life cycle
d. None of the above
Answer: c. Haploid-diploid life cycle

FAQ

What are the different modes of reproduction in protists?

Protists can reproduce both sexually and asexually, depending on the species and environmental conditions.

How do protists reproduce asexually?

Protists can reproduce asexually through binary fission, multiple fission, budding, or plasmotomy.

What is binary fission?

Binary fission is a type of asexual reproduction in which a cell divides into two identical daughter cells.

What is multiple fission?

Multiple fission is a type of asexual reproduction in which a single cell divides into multiple daughter cells.

What is budding?

Budding is a type of asexual reproduction in which a small outgrowth, or bud, develops on the parent cell and eventually detaches to become a new individual.

What is plasmotomy?

Plasmotomy is a type of asexual reproduction in which the nucleus of a single cell divides multiple times, producing multiple nuclei without cell division.

How do protists reproduce sexually?

Protists can reproduce sexually through syngamy, conjugation, or spore formation.

What is syngamy?

Syngamy is the process by which two haploid gametes fuse to form a diploid zygote.

What is conjugation?

Conjugation is a type of sexual reproduction in which two individuals exchange genetic material, typically in the form of a plasmid.

What is spore formation?

Spore formation is a type of sexual reproduction in which a single cell produces spores that can develop into new individuals. Spore formation can involve either meiosis or mitosis.

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