'Cells' and 'organisms' as a habitat for DNA

Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Containing Papers of a Biological Character
M H Richmond


Although the bulk of the hereditary information in bacteria is organized as a single chromosome, it has been known for some years now that bacteria may also carry pieces of self-replicating extrachromosomal DNA. These units are known as plasmids. Sometimes such plasmids carry the information necessary to give rise to mature bacterial viruses under appropriate conditions, but in other cases they specify the production of enzymes and other proteins which alter the bacterial phenotype. Plasmids are often inessential for survival of bacteria, although they may widen the range of environmental conditions under which they flourish. Thus plasmids may be thought of as adventitious additions to the genetic content of bacterial cells. Recently it has become clear that furthur organizational units of DNA are to be found in bacterial cells. These units are called insertion sequences and transposons. Unlike plasmids and the chromosome, however, these DNA units do not carry enough genetic information to specify their own independent replication: they must rely on plasmids or the chromosome for that purpose. Nevertheless they behave in many respects as independent functional units. Although it is possible to think of the chromosome, plasmids ...Continue Reading

Related Concepts

DNA Sequence
Genome Mapping
Chromosomes, Bacterial
DNA Replication
DNA, Bacterial
Biological Evolution
DNA Conformation

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