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Plasmid transfer in Haemophilus influenzae.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology


Twenty-nine strains of Haemophilus influenzae highly resistant to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, or tetracycline were examined for the presence of plasmids. Agarose gel electrophoresis of ethanol-precipitated cell extracts revealed large plasmids in 11 strains, of which 7 were conjugative. Plasmid transfer by conjugation between isogenic strains was quite efficient, but transfer between different serotypes was nearly always much more inefficient. Type I or II restriction enzymes do not appear to be barriers to this transfer. Encapsulated cells can be both efficient donors and recipients. Small plasmids were seen in three strains, but only two of the three are resistance factors (RSF0885, pUB703). Thus, in 17 isolates antibiotic resistance genes are believed to be located in the bacterial chromosome. Most of these resistances could be transferred by genetic transformation into the widely used Rd strain. In some cases transfer of chromosomal resistance into conjugative plasmids was observed in both rec+ and rec host cells. Since transfer by conjugation seems to be the more efficient process, it is puzzling that in the majority of the 29 isolates studied resistance genes appeared to be in the chromosome.

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