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Difference Between Binary Fission and Fragmentation


Fragmentation, binary fission, and budding are common asexual reproduction methods. Prokaryotes and eukaryotes use these methods to multiply without gametes. Binary fission gives rise to two cells from one parent cell, while fragmentation leads to the breakage of the parent cell into many. Binary fission is common in archaebacteria, eubacteria, and protists. Alternatively, fragmentation takes place in many multicellular organisms like plants. Keep reading to learn more about binary fission and fragmentation.

Comparison Table

FactorsBinary FissionFragmentation
DefinitionDivision into two cellsBreakdown into
multiple fragments
Type of CellProkaryotes and
unicellular eukaryotes
No. of CellsTwoMultiple
ExamplesBacteria and archaeaSea stars, molds,
algae, and plants

What is Binary Fission?

Binary fission is the breakdown of a parent cell to give rise to two daughter cells. The process takes place through cytokinesis and mitosis to produce new organisms. The cytoplasm and the nucleus divide equally between the two cells. It is one of the most prominent differences between binary fission and other asexual reproductive methods. It is also a common factor between sexual and asexual reproduction, that it typically divides the cell components equally among both daughter cells. Binary fission is also known as prokaryotic fission, as it is more widely adopted by prokaryotes. Bacteria and archaea exhibit this type of asexual reproduction. Besides binary fission, multiple fission is an asexual reproduction method that produces multiple cells.

Binary Fission Process

  • Binary fission begins with the uncoiling of DNA and chromosomes in the cell.
  • Specific chromosomes move to opposite poles of the cell for karyokinesis.
  • Cytokinesis occurs following karyokinesis to distribute cell components equally.
  • A cleavage furrow forms that separates the plasma membrane, forming two cells from one.


Amoeba is the most widely known example of binary fission. This organism divides through this process into two, which continues in all generations to reproduce. The two smaller cells grow into the size of the original cells. Body organelles like mitochondria also multiply through binary fission.

What is Fragmentation?

Fragmentation is another method of asexual reproduction commonly occurring in multicellular organisms. Fragmentation refers to the breakdown of a parent cell or organism into smaller parts or fragments that grow into individuals. Fragmentation takes place in prokaryotic and some types of eukaryotic cells. The ability of colonial organisms to divide through fragmentation gives rise to the name “colonial fragmentation.”

Besides yeast and bacteria, fragmentation is widely adapted by lichen, molds, cyanobacteria, plants, fungi and animals. It is common in starfish, sea stars, and acoel flatworms as well. Colonial animals like corals and sponges also use fragmentation to multiply. Vegetative propagation in plants takes place through this process. Fragmentation helps in the production of bulbs, rhizomes, and stolons. Sometimes fragmentation may also occur undeliberately. Fragmentation involves mitosis instead of meiosis.

Fragmentation Process

  • Fragmentation takes place through the formation of furrows along the points of splitting.
  • The cell eventually breaks from that particular point.
  • The broken fragments regenerate the missing pieces as the tissues and organs grow again.

Animals utilize dichotomy and paratomy to form fragments that grow into new organisms. Dichotomy takes place at a particular point where the tissues and organs regenerate. At the same time, paratomy is the breakdown of the organism perpendicular to the antero-posterior axis.


The development of sea stars takes place through fragmentation. The large fragment from the parent gives rise to a new individual that might be smaller in size than the parent. The fragment eventually develops into a proper organism through regeneration.

Similarities between Binary Fission and Fragmentation

  • Binary fission and fragmentation are modes of asexual reproduction.
  • They both are found in prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
  • These processes produce identical cells or organisms.

Differences between Binary Fission and Fragmentation


Binary Fission

Binary fission is the breakdown of parent cells to produce two similar daughter cells.


Contrarily, fragmentation gives rise to multiple fragments of an organism, growing into a new organism.

Number of Daughter Cells

Binary Fission

Binary fission results in the production of two daughter cells.


At the same time, fragmentation may produce multiple fragments that grow into individuals.

Type of Cells

Binary Fission

Binary fission typically takes place in prokaryotes and unicellular eukaryotes.


Meanwhile, fragmentation occurs in multicellular organisms majorly.


Binary Fission

Karyokinesis and cytokinesis take place during binary fission.


While, fragmentation does not involve the division of the nucleus between daughter organisms.


Binary Fission

Binary fission is common in bacteria and archaea.


Fragmentation takes place in cyanobacteria, sea stars, molds, fungi, algae, and plants.

The Bottom Line

Many organisms grow through asexual reproduction methods that do not involve oogenesis or spermatogenesis. Binary fission and fragmentation are two asexual reproduction methods utilized by prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. The primary difference between the two is that binary fission produces two cells while fragmentation gives rise to multiple. Prokaryotes, like bacteria, typically reproduce through binary fission, while vegetative propagation in plants takes place through fragmentation. Some organelles also multiply with the help of binary fission.

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