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J Bacteriol. Jan 1991; 173(2): 443–448.
PMCID: PMC207031

Natural transfer of conjugative transposon Tn916 between gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.


The conjugative streptococcal transposon Tn916 was found to transfer naturally between a variety of gram-positive and gram-negative eubacteria. Enterococcus faecalis hosting the transposon could serve as a donor for Alcaligenes eutrophus, Citrobacter freundii, and Escherichia coli at frequencies of 10(-6) to 10(-8). No transfer was observed with several phototrophic species. Mating of an E. coli strain carrying Tn916 yielded transconjugants with Bacillus subtilis, Clostridium acetobutylicum, Enterococcus faecalis, and Streptococcus lactis subsp. diacetylactis at frequencies of 10(-4) to 10(-6). Acetobacterium woodii was the only gram-positive organism tested that did not accept the transposon from a gram-negative donor. The results prove the ability of conjugative transposable elements such as Tn916 for natural cross-species gene transfer, thus potentially contributing to bacterial evolution.

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