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'No sex please, we're bacteria': A new type of reproduction

One species of bacteria seems to get many of the perks of sexual reproduction without actually having sex, a new study finds.

Different strains of bacteria called Mycobacterium smegmatis swap large, random bits of DNA prior to reproducing asexually. This process, known as conjugal transfer, produces just as much genetic diversity as sexual reproduction.

"I call it preproduction, because it happens before the reproduction," said study co-author Todd Gray, a geneticist at the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center, in Albany, N.Y. "It's positioning yourself to be better at reproduction than your siblings or your parent strain."

The findings, published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Biology, raise the possibility that disease-causing bacteria can evolve even faster than previously thought.

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  1. Is there another type of bacterial conjugation ??

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