A kind of sexual union; -- applied to a blending of the contents of two or more cells or individuals in some plants and lower animals, by which new spores or germs are developed.
In unicellular organisms, temporary cell contact between complementary genders and exchange of genetic material, as in the ciliate Paramecium aurelia, or one-way transfer of genes as in bacteria (see F Factor) and green alga Spirogyra.
Modern bacteria reproduce by splitting in two - that is, they have asexual reproduction. But a bacteria can join temporarily with another bacteria to swap genetic fragments. This conjugation process is why so many bacteria have recently become antibiotic resistant. The process permits bacteria to form a sort of community.