Conjugation requires contact between the donor and recipient cells and transfer is polar, from the cell that can synthesize a sex pilus to one that cannot. Both plasmid and chromosomal DNA can be transferred as single-stranded DNA molecules. Following transfer chromosomal DNA must be integrated into the recipient cell whereas plasmids can replicate independent of the chromosome.

■ What two transfer functions does the F plasmid encode?

■ Explain why DNA is transferred in a polar fashion.

■ Would you expect conjugation to be more efficient if cells were plated together on solid medium (agar) or mixed together in a liquid in a shaking flask? Explain.

■ What happens to chromosomal DNA that is transferred in conjugation if it does not integrate into the recipient cell's chromosome? Explain.

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