Amoeba Reproduction

The Mechanics Of Amoeba Reproduction

A study of amoeba reproduction involves the study of a living, single cell organism, in other words, something that is very small indeed. Adding to the difficulty in studying and understanding amoeba reproduction is the fact that most amoebas are virtually transparent, and must be dyed in order to observe what is going on.




In scientific circles it's generally assumed that if you chemically treat something you're investigating, the characteristics of the entity being investigated can sometimes change. In other words, sometimes it's never quite possible to determine what actually goes on, as the process of measuring or observing whatever is being investigated changes behaviors.

As far as the amoeba is concerned, dyeing the little creatures appears to have no particular effect on their method of reproduction, so the scientists have a pretty good handle on exactly what is happening.

No Sex, Just Division - The amoeba is asexual, which means there is no sex involved in reproduction, or in the preservation of the species. The amoeba simply divides into two, apparently whenever it feels like it, though in some cases, usually if in an unnatural setting or environment, an amoeba may divide into more than two parts.

At the center of the cell making up the amoeba is what is called its nucleus. When an amoeba decides to reproduce itself, a second, identical nucleus is formed, and the two nuclei then begin to draw away from one another. Initially the amoeba looks like an egg with a single yolk in a frying pan, although the amoeba has a very asymmetrical shape, like what would be created if you tossed the egg into the frying pan instead of dropping it in. When the amoeba beings to divide, it resembles an egg with a double yolk, with the two yolks beginning to move farther and farther apart.

Binary Fission - This process is called binary fission (not to be confused with nuclear fission, even though a new nucleus has been created), where two offspring are formed from a single parent. Once they separate, the parent-child relationship comes to an abrupt end, or more precisely, a parent-child relationship really never really existed to begin with, and instead of two generations of amoebas, there will be two amoebas which are still of the same generation. If this seems a little weird, another way to put it is the amoeba is for all intents and purposes immortal. An amoeba doesn't produce offspring and then go off and die somewhere. It simply divides, and each part lives on as if nothing had previously happened.

When Something Goes Wrong - Sometimes when an amoeba divides, the two parts have difficulty in separating. As they try to pull apart, the connecting tissue becomes a thinner and thinner strand. Usually the strand breaks, but on occasion it does not, and what results is two amoebas which are joined like Siamese twins.  This rarely is a permanent situation however as something very strange happens. Other amoebas come to the rescue, put pressure on the connecting strand of tissue, and force it to break, freeing the two new amoebas.

Communication By Chemistry - If may seem a bit puzzling how a one-celled creature can call for assistance when it has a problem in dividing. The amoeba doesn't actually call for help in the usual sense of the word. As it attempts to divide, a chemical is released, and more of it is released when the tether holding two amoebas together refuses to break. This chemical attracts other amoebas, which then do the job of separating the amoebas that are stuck together.

Now you know how an amoeba reproduces, what the process of binary fission involves, and how other amoebas come to the rescue, acting as midwives, in the birth of a new amoeba. If we reproduced the same way, we might be immortal also.