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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2006 Sep;262(1):31-8.

Bacterial extracellular DNA forming a defined network-like structure.

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Department of Environmental Microbiology, University of Technology Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


It is generally assumed that nucleic acids are localized inside of living cells and that their primary function is the storage of information. In contrast, extracellular DNA is mainly considered as a remnant of lysed cells. Here, we report the formation of extracellular bacterial DNA as a spatial structure. An aquatic bacterium, strain F8, was isolated, which produced a stable filamentous network of extracellular DNA. Different staining and enzymatic techniques confirmed that it was DNA. We were able to amplify the 16S rRNA gene from the extracellular DNA. Restriction endonuclease cleavage and randomly amplified polymorphic DNA analysis of extracellular and genomic DNAs revealed major similarities, but also some differences in both sequences. Our data demonstrate a new function and relevance for extracellular DNA.

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