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Plasmids 101: Antibiotic Resistance Genes

Posted by Marcy Patrick on Jan 30, 2014 10:29:00 AM


Resistance to antibiotics is a widely used tool in molecular biology, yet scientists rarely stop to think about how much easier it makes our lives. Plasmid transformation into E. coli is a fairly inefficient process– just 1 out of 10,000 cells on average! Without some means of quickly determining which cells successfully received the correct plasmid, scientists would spend hours to days trying find their correct clones. Additionally, the presence of a plasmid is disadventageous from the bacterium's perspective – a plasmid-containing cell must replicate the plasmid in addition to its own chromosomal DNA, costing additional resources to maintain the plasmid. Adding an antibiotic resistance gene to the plasmid solves both problems at once – it allows a scientist to easily detect plasmid-containing bacteria when the cells are grown on selective media, and provides those bacteria with a pressure to keep your plasmid. Viva la (bacterial) resistance! 

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Topics: Plasmid How To, Plasmid Elements, Lab Tips, Plasmids 101

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