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Genetics. Dec 2002; 162(4): 1525–1532.
PMCID: PMC1462386

Plasmids spread very fast in heterogeneous bacterial communities.


Conjugative plasmids can mediate gene transfer between bacterial taxa in diverse environments. The ability to donate the F-type conjugative plasmid R1 greatly varies among enteric bacteria due to the interaction of the system that represses sex-pili formations (products of finOP) of plasmids already harbored by a bacterial strain with those of the R1 plasmid. The presence of efficient donors in heterogeneous bacterial populations can accelerate plasmid transfer and can spread by several orders of magnitude. Such donors allow millions of other bacteria to acquire the plasmid in a matter of days whereas, in the absence of such strains, plasmid dissemination would take years. This "amplification effect" could have an impact on the evolution of bacterial pathogens that exist in heterogeneous bacterial communities because conjugative plasmids can carry virulence or antibiotic-resistance genes.

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Selected References

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