Plasmid - Wikipedia

Function of Bacterial plasmid

Function / October 2, 2017

A plasmid is a small, circular, double-stranded DNA molecule that is distinct from a cell's chromosomal DNA. Plasmids naturally exist in bacterial cells, and they also occur in some eukaryotes. Often, the genes carried in plasmids provide bacteria with genetic advantages, such as antibiotic resistance. Plasmids have a wide range of lengths, from roughly one thousand DNA base pairs to hundreds of thousands of base pairs. When a bacterium divides, all of the plasmids contained within the cell are copied such that each daughter cell receives a copy of each plasmid. Bacteria can also transfer plasmids to one another through a process called conjugation.

Scientists have taken advantage of plasmids to use them as tools to clone, transfer, and manipulate genes. Plasmids that are used experimentally for these purposes are called vectors. Researchers can insert DNA fragments or genes into a plasmid vector, creating a so-called recombinant plasmid. This plasmid can be introduced into a bacterium by way of the process called transformation. Then, because bacteria divide rapidly, they can be used as factories to copy DNA fragments in large quantities.