Conjugation and the Escherichia coli Paradigm

  • Edward A. Birge


The discovery of the process of conjugation in prokaryotes was due to one of the most fortuitous experimental designs in recent scientific history. Many other scientists had tried to demonstrate conjugation and had failed. Nevertheless, Joshua Lederberg and Edward Tatum, working at Yale University, chose to make another attempt using a common laboratory strain of bacteria, Escherichia coli K-12, as their experimental system. They also decided to test only a few isolates of the strain. By chance, they chose not only one of the few organisms that readily undergoes conjugation but also a fertile strain of that organism. In so doing they started an extremely fruitful branch of bacterial genetic research. E. coli remains the standard conjugation system to which all others are initially compared. This chapter presents the E. coli conjugation system. Several alternative conjugation systems are discussed in Chapter 12.


Donor Cell Recipient Cell Conjugation System Bacterial Chromosome Cold Spring Harbor Symposium 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

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

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