Bacterial Gene Transfer

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[1] 3 Types of Gene Transfer in Bacteria:


1. Transformation. Which is the transfer of genes from Free DNA Molecules in the surrounding medium into a recipiant cell.

The main experiment linked to this was Griffiths work with smooth virilant (Deadly) strain of Pneumonia and rough (non-deadly) strain on Mice.
When the smooth strain was treated with heat it was killed and so when injected into the mouse it was not deadly.
However when the 'Heat-Killed' smooth strain and the rough (non-deadly) strain was mixed and injected together the mouse contracted pneumonia. This shows that the smooth strain has 'TRANSFORMED' the rough strain so it becomes deadly when they are mixed.


2. Conjugation. Transference of genes via direct cell to cell interactions.

This methods exchanged Plasmids (Very uncommon to transfer chromosomal DNA)

Bacteria of donor cell has a Pilus (protein hair like apendage) on its cell surface which attaches to the recipiant cell. The pilus pulls the recipiant call to the donor so that they can have direct transfer by temporarily joining membranes.
The donor cell unwinds it double stranded DNA plasmid and one of the strands are transfered from the donor to recipiant.
Both cells the split apart and synthesises (Semi-conservative replication) the complementory strand so that both donor and recipiant cells now have identicle plasmids.


3. Transduction. Phage mediated DNA transfer

Bacteriophages (Virus) inject cells with viral DNA which then infects the cell. The cell then produces new phages and breaks open, releasing new phages to go and infect other cells.
Occationaly when the new phages are being packaged with the viral DNA a mistake is made and it packs host cell chromosmal DNA. The phages which do this are called 'TRANSDUCING PARTICLES'

These phages then go and infect other (recipiant cells) the host DNA is then injected, opposed to the viral DNA, and the host DNA will be encourperated into the recipiants chromosomal DNA, gaining new genes.

Bacteriophage can be easily detected because they form plaques in a bacteria growth. In the absence of phages, bacterial cells will grow and form a translucent lawn. However when a phage is introduced the bacteria will become infected, replicate more phages, and eventually undergoing cell lysis. This lysis will release the phages into the medium and soon the surrounding cells will also become infected, causing cell lysis to occur is these as well.  The bacteria in a localised area will all die (lyse) and create an area where no bacteria exist. These areas are known as plaques.

  1. Hartl D. L., Ruvolo M. (2012), Genetics: Analysis of genes and genomes, Eight Edition, Jones & Bartlett learning (Chapter 9 Genetics of Bacteria and their viruses)
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