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Microbiol Spectr. 2014 Oct;2(5). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PLAS-0019-2013.

Historical Events That Spawned the Field of Plasmid Biology.

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Plant Pathology, University of California Davis, Davis, CA 95616.


This chapter revisits the historical development and outcome of studies focused on the transmissible, extrachromosomal genetic elements called plasmids. Early work on plasmids involved structural and genetic mapping of these molecules, followed by the development of an understanding of how plasmids replicate and segregate during cell division. The intriguing property of plasmid transmission between bacteria and between bacteria and higher cells has received considerable attention. The utilitarian aspects of plasmids are described, including examples of various plasmid vector systems. This chapter also discusses the functional attributes of plasmids needed for their persistence and survival in nature and in man-made environments. The term plasmid biology was first conceived at the Fallen Leaf Lake Conference on Promiscuous Plasmids, 1990, Lake Tahoe, California. The International Society for Plasmid Biology was established in 2004 (

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