Question: Origin of plasmids

Steven Sanyal steven.sanyal at utoronto.ca
Mon Oct 9 14:48:51 EST 1995

I am a third year Molecular Biology student at the university of Toronto 
and am also taking a microbiology course out of general interest.

I am curious as to the proposed origin of plasmids.  I have heard that 
bacteria can actually scavenge their surroundings for useful pieces of 

Most plasmids I have come across thus far have dealt with antibiotic 
resistance genes - used for selections.  Did these genes evolve only 
since the advent of antibiotics this century, or is it believed that they 
existed before?  ie: were their natural antibiotic agents that existed 
before - a sort of interbacterial warfare.


steven.sanyal at utoronto.ca

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