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Extranuclear Inheritance

Plasmids

Bacteria often carry small circular DNA molecules called plasmids. These molecules sometimes carry genes that have important properties; for example, some plasmid genes make the host cell resistant to antibiotics, with important consequences for human health. Plasmids are widely used in genetics labs in the process of cloning genes. Like organelle DNA in eukaryotes, plasmid molecules are replicated independently of the cell chromosome, and one cell can contain many copies. Plasmid DNA molecules are replicated randomly and partitioned randomly to daughter cells, just like organelle genes. As a result, a cell with two different genotypes of plasmids may produce daughter cells with only one or the other. This process, analogous to vegetative segregation, is called plasmid incompatibility.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaGenetics in Medicine - Part 2Extranuclear Inheritance - Genes In Mitochondria And Chloroplasts, Endosymbiotic Origin Of Mitochondria And Chloroplasts, Non-mendelian Inheritance Of Organelle Genes