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Conjugation: Transfer of the F Plasmid

What is the function of the F plasmid? A plasmid can be thought of as being equivalent to a transposable element. It is an independent genetic entity that is capable of replicating itself. Plasmids often carry important genes for the fitness of host cells. As these genes make the cell more successful in reproducing they also benefit the plasmid. Plasmids are possibly enormously important in the evolution of cells. Conjugation allows for the lateral transfer of genes, even between different species of bacteria. Therefore plasmids may have been important in spreading genes for important cellular functions across many different groups of bacteria.

View the animation below, then complete the quiz to test your knowledge of the concept.

1The F plasmid
A)is made of single-stranded DNA
B)is present in F- cells
C)codes for resistance to antibiotics
D)codes for making the F pilus

2The F pilus
A)is a protein appendage on the F+ donor that attaches to specific receptors on the cell wall of the recipient
B)is made of nucleotides
C)is transferred to the recipient cell
D)is a part of the recipient cell that specifically attaches to the donor cell

3When an F+ donor gives an F plasmid to an F- recipient
A)both become F-
B)both become F+
C)the donor becomes F-
D)the recipient becomes F-
E)it is not possible to predict the outcome

4Contact is required between an F+ and an F- cell for conjugation to occur.

5When F+ cells are mixed with F- cells, eventually all the cells will become F+.

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