Genetic Transformation

  • Edward A. Birge


This chapter introduces the first major bacterial genetic transfer process to be discovered, genetic transformation. At first glance, the mechanism appears to be improbable. Large DNA fragments (as heavy as several million dal-tons) are released from donor cells and diffuse through the culture medium to recipient cells. The fragments are then transported across the cell wall and cell membrane into the cytoplasm where recombination occurs. The process is distinct from another biologic phenomenon also denoted transformation, the conversion of normal mammalian cells into tumor cells. To emphasize this difference, in this book the bacterial process is always described as genetic transformation.


Bacillus Subtilis Genetic Transformation Competent Cell Recipient Cell Neisseria Gonorrhoeae 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



  1. Dubnau, D. (1991). Genetic competence in Bacillus subtilis. Microbiological Reviews 55:395–424. (Includes some information on other systems.)Google Scholar
  2. McCarty, M. (1985). The Transforming Principle: Discovering That Genes Are Made of DNA. New York: Norton. (Scientific history written by one of the participants.)Google Scholar
  3. Piggott, P.J., Hoch, J.A. (1985). Revised genetic linkage map of Bacillus subtilis. Microbiological Reviews 49:158–179.Google Scholar
  4. Stewart, G.J., Carlson, C.A. (1986). The biology of natural transformation. Annual Review of Microbiology 40:211–235.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar


  1. Aardema, B.W., Lorenz, M.G., Krumbein, W.E. (1983). Protection of sediment-adsorbed transforming DNA against enzymatic inactivation. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 46:417–420.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Akamatsu, T., Sekiguchi, J. (1987). Characterization of chromosome and plasmid transformation in Bacillus subtilis using gently lysed protoplasts. Archives of Microbiology 146:353–357.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barouki, R., Smith, H.O. (1986). Initial steps in Haemophilus influenzae transformation: Donor DNA binding in the com10 mutant. Journal of Biological Chemistry 261:8617–8623.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Biswas, G.D., Burnstein, K.L., Sparling, P.F. (1986). Linearization of donor DNA during plasmid transformation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Journal of Bacteriology 168:756–761.Google Scholar
  5. Chandler, M.S. (1992). The gene encoding cAMP receptor protein is required for competence development in Haemophilus influenzae. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. 89:1626–1630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Conley, E.C., Saunders, V.A., Jackson, V., Saunders, J.R. (1986). Mechanism of intramolecular recyclization and deletion formation following transformation of Escherichia coli with linearized plasmid DNA. Nucleic Acids Research 14:8919–8931.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hanahan, D. (1983). Studies on transformation of Escherichia coli with plasmids. Journal of Molecular Biology 166:557–580.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hui, F.M., Morrison, D.A. (1991). Genetic transformation in Streptococcus pneumoniae: Nucleotide sequence analysis shows com A, a gene required for competence induction, to be a member of the bacterial ATP-dependent transport protein family. Journal of Bacteriology 173:372–381.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. McCarthy, D., Kupfer, D.M. (1987). Electron microscopy of single-stranded structures in the DNA of competent Haemophilus influenzae cells. Journal of Bacteriology 169:565–57’1.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Mongold, J.A. (1992). DNA repair and the evolution of transformation in Haemophilus influenzae. Genetics 132:893–898. (Evidence that transforming DNA does not serve as a template for DNA repair.)PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Pifer, M.L. (1986). Plasmid establishment in competent Haemophilus influenzae occurs by illegitimate transformation. Journal of Bacteriology 168:683–687.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Redfield, R.J. (1993). Evolution of natural transformation: testing the DNA repair hypothesis in Bacillus subtilis and Haemophilus influenzae. Genetics 133:755–762.Google Scholar
  13. Reusch, R.N. (1992). Biological complexes of poly-β-hydroxybutyrate. FEMS Microbiology Reviews 103:119–130. (A biophysical discussion of possible functions of poly-β-hydroxybutyric acid.)Google Scholar
  14. Reusch, R.N., Sadoff, H.L. (1988). Putative structure and functions of a poly-β-hydroxybutyrate/calcium phosphate channel in bacterial plasma membranes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. 85:4176–4180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward A. Birge
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MicrobiologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

Personalised recommendations