Bacteria, being single-celled prokaryotic organisms, do not have a male or female version. Bacteria reproduce asexually. In asexual reproduction, the “parent” produces a genetically identical copy of itself.
Bacteria reproduce through a process called binary fission. During binary fission, the chromosome copies itself, forming two genetically identical copies. Then, the cell enlarges and divides into two new daughter cells. The two daughter cells are identical to the parent cell. Binary fission can happen very rapidly. Some species of bacteria can double their population in less than ten minutes! This process makes it possible for a tremendous bacterial colony to start from a single cell.
Are there male and female bacteria? Of course the answer is no. So, sexual reproduction does not occur in bacteria. But not all new bacteria are clones. This is because bacteria can acquire new DNA. This process occurs in three different ways:
Conjugation: In conjugation, DNA passes through an extension on the surface of one bacterium and travels to another bacterium. Bacteria essential exchange DNA via conjugation.
Transformation: In transformation, bacteria pick up pieces of DNA from their environment.
Transduction: In transduction, viruses that infect bacteria carry DNA from one bacterium to another.