Bacteria reproduce by binary fission. In this process the bacterium, which is a single cell, divides into two identical daughter cells. Binary fission begins when the DNA of the bacterium divides into two (replicates). The bacterial cell then elongates and splits into two daughter cells each with identical DNA to the parent cell. Each daughter cell is a clone of the parent cell.
When conditions are favourable such as the right temperature and nutrients are available, some bacteria like Escherichia coli can divide every 20 minutes. This means that in just seven hours one bacterium can generate 2,097,152 bacteria. After one more hour the number of bacteria will have risen to a colossal 16,777,216. That’s why we can quickly become ill when pathogenic microbes invade our bodies.