The Molecular Cloning Using Conjugation or Transduction


The steps involved in molecular cloning using bacterial transformation are outlined in this graphic flowchart.

Source: OpenStax Microbiology

OpenStax Microbiology

The bacterial process of conjugation can also be manipulated for molecular cloning. F plasmids, or fertility plasmids, are transferred between bacterial cells through the process of conjugation. Recombinant DNA can be transferred by conjugation when bacterial cells containing a recombinant F plasmid are mixed with compatible bacterial cells lacking the plasmid. F plasmids encode a surface structure called an F pilus that facilitates contact between a cell containing an F plasmid and one without an F plasmid. On contact, a cytoplasmic bridge forms between the two cells and the F-plasmid-containing cell replicates its plasmid, transferring a copy of the recombinant F plasmid to the recipient cell. Once it has received the recombinant F plasmid, the recipient cell can produce its own F pilus and facilitate transfer of the recombinant F plasmid to an additional cell. The use of conjugation to transfer recombinant F plasmids to recipient cells is another effective way to introduce recombinant DNA molecules into host cells.

Alternatively, bacteriophages can be used to introduce recombinant DNA into host bacterial cells through a manipulation of the transduction process. In the laboratory, DNA fragments of interest can be engineered into phagemids, which are plasmids that have phage sequences that allow them to be packaged into bacteriophages. Bacterial cells can then be infected with these bacteriophages so that the recombinant phagemids can be introduced into the bacterial cells. Depending on the type of phage, the recombinant DNA may be integrated into the host bacterial genome (lysogeny), or it may exist as a plasmid in the host’s cytoplasm.


Parker, N., Schneegurt, M., Thi Tu, A.-H., Forster, B. M., & Lister, P. (n.d.). Microbiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at:


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