This page has been archived and is no longer updated


conjugation (prokaryotes)

Two bacterial cells are aligned and touching. Part of the chromosome of one is sliding out of one cell and into another, across cell membranes. The donating cell has both F factor material and chromosome material visible. Either can transfer from one cell to another.
Conjugation is the process by which one bacterium transfers genetic material to another through direct contact. During conjugation, one bacterium serves as the donor of the genetic material, and the other serves as the recipient. The donor bacterium carries a DNA sequence called the fertility factor, or F-factor. The F-factor allows the donor to produce a thin, tubelike structure called a pilus, which the donor uses to contact the recipient. The pilus then draws the two bacteria together, at which time the donor bacterium transfers genetic material to the recipient bacterium. Typically, the genetic material is in the form of a plasmid, or a small, circular piece of DNA. The genetic material transferred during conjugation often provides the recipient bacterium with some sort of genetic advantage. For instance, in many cases, conjugation serves to transfer plasmids that carry antibiotic resistance genes.

Further Exploration

Concept Links for further exploration

Related Concepts (6)

Connect Send a message

Scitable by Nature Education Nature Education Home Learn More About Faculty Page Students Page Feedback