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Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2007 Nov;35(6):440-5. doi: 10.1002/bmb.113.

Conjugation in Escherichia coli: A laboratory exercise.

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Institute for Innovation and Development of Learning Process, Mahidol University, Rama VI, Bangkok 10400, Thailand; Department of Genetics, Faculty of Science, Kasetsart University, Bangkhen, Bangkok 10900, Thailand.


Bacterial conjugation is a genetic transfer that involves cell-to-cell between donor and recipient cells. With the current method used to teach students in genetic courses at the undergraduate level, the transconjugants are identified using bacterial physiology and/or antibiotic resistance. Using physiology, however, is difficult for both first-year undergraduates and special science students at the high school levels, who do not have the basic knowledge. We have developed a laboratory exercise that comprises a simple and rapid technique for transferring bacterial DNA by conjugation and examining the transconjuants using only antibiotic resistance on agar. The identity of the right transconjuants is confirmed by agarose gel electrophoresis. This exercise is designed to help students understand how horizontal gene transfer occurs in bacteria by conjugation using Escherichia coli as a hands-on learning model. Students should be able to draw concept maps of three DNA transfer methods on their own after carrying out the experiment and getting some additional information.

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