Conjugation - Research Article from Macmillan Science Library: Genetics

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The Role of Plasmids

Conjugation is about as close as single cells come to engaging in sex, and some of the terminology used to describe the process reflects that similarity. Conjugation, or mating, is a process of genetic transfer that requires cell-to-cell contact. The genetic instructions for conjugation are encoded on a double-stranded, circular piece of DNA. The circular DNA exists in the bacterial cell entirely separate from the much larger bacterial chromosome. Scientists refer to this specialized, extrachromosomal piece of DNA as a conjugative plasmid or a "fertility factor." Cells that possess it are donor or "male" cells, and those that lack a conjugative plasmid are recipient or "female" cells.

Conjugating Escherichia coli bacteria transfer DNA through cell-to-cell contact, which is made possible by the thread-like pilus that attaches to and reels in other cells. Conjugating Escherichia coli bacteria transfer DNA through cell-to-cell contact, which is made possible by the thread-like pilus that attaches to and reels in other cells.

There are multiple genes involved in the process of conjugation. Some of the...

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This section contains 941 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Conjugation Encyclopedia Article
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Macmillan Science Library: Genetics
Conjugation from Macmillan Science Library: Genetics. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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