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Plasmids: Types, Functions and Applications

BY: Amna Adnan | Category: Others | Submitted: 2010-06-28 20:32:39
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Article Summary: "Plasmids are the extra chromosomal structures which are present in the bacterial cell. They are usually used to deliver therapeutic drugs in the body and also detect the damaged or diseased cells in the body and target them..."

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Plasmids are the extra chromosomal structures in the cells of bacteria which have the ability to self replicate. They do not combine with the genetic material of the host cell but stay independently. They are genetically modified and are used in the recombinant DNA technology. They are able of carrying 20 genes at a time.


Plasmids are usually made up of double stranded non-chromosomal DNA, but in some cases they are circular. They make their structure circular by combining the two ends of the double stranded DNA together. These ends are combined through covalent bonds.


1) The main function of plasmids is to carry antibiotic resistant genes and spread them in the whole human or animal body. In this way many diseases of humans and animals can be treated.

2) The other function of plasmids is to carry those genes which are involved in metabolic activities and are helpful in digesting the pollutants from the environment.

3) They are also capable of producing antibacterial proteins.

4) Plasmids re also able to carry the genes which are concerned with increasing the pathogenicity of bacteria which cause diseases like anthrax and tetanus.

There are five types of plasmids which are used for different purposes.

1) Resistance-® Plasmids:-
This type of plasmids is involved in the bacterial conjugation. They usually carry those genes which code for the resistance of antibiotics or poisons. They also code for those genes which are responsible for the production of conjugation pili. The main role of conjugation pili is to transfer the R plasmid from a donor bacterium to the recipient bacterium. This is how the other bacteria also become antibiotic resistant.

2) Degradative plasmids:-
This type of plasmids is capable of degrading or digesting the dead organic matter from dead animals or plants. They use this organic matter in the process of biosynthesis and make energy and recycle them.

3) Fertility Plasmids:-
These plasmids carry the tra-genes which are used in the process of conjugation. They are helpful in transferring the genetic material between bacteria.

4) Col Plasmids:-
The plasmids of this type produce such antibiotics which are involved in killing the other harmful strains of bacteria by staying in the host bacterial cell. The antibiotics are also called as colicin.

5) Virulence Plasmids:-
As the name shows, these plasmids have the ability to transform bacteria into a pathogen. So they are responsible for carrying the genes which cause diseases.

Plasmids in Gene Therapy:-

Plasmids have a significant role in gene therapy. They are mostly used for the insertion of therapeutic genes in the human body to fight against diseases. They are easy to manipulate and their replication in the bacterial cell is easy. They have the ability to efficiently target the cells which are defected and trigger the therapeutic genes in them. There are no harmful effects of plasmids like the viral vectors.

Plasmids in Recombinant DNA technology:-

Recombinant DNA technology makes use of plasmids for many purposes. For the drug delivery, this technology makes use of the plasmids to insert the desired drug into the body. They are also involved in causing antibiotic resistance and are used to kill harmful bacteria from the body. Recombinant DNA technology applied plasmids for the first time on the human body for the insertion of human insulin. It gave very efficient results. The other application of plasmids is the insertion of human growth hormone in the mammalian cells of animals.

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Comments on this article: (30 comments so far)

Comment By Comment
2011-08-04 09:46:51 205
well described
2011-08-14 10:02:07 210
well described
2011-10-02 10:38:49 220
explained very beautifully,thank you.
Muhammad afzal
2011-10-19 23:36:01 224
comprehensively explained Thank you
Ifemkpa ThankGod
2012-10-16 02:44:56 335
The understanding of the whole concept was made easy
2012-11-28 08:04:12 360
very good attempt. Thanks
Joyshankar Rajkumar
2012-12-21 04:29:43 369
Good, I like the way it described. And thanks !
mehar afshan.a
2013-01-21 07:55:02 403
toooooooooo good very use ful
wangkhem rajesh
2013-02-03 06:55:41 420
limitedly well defined, thanks a lot!!!
2013-03-02 11:47:33 533
thank u so much
vidhya kandaiah
2013-05-04 03:51:19 617
understanding made easier.Thank you
2013-05-07 17:55:01 620
This information is very well.thank you
2013-05-13 03:33:44 627
This is easy to understand, thanks and God bless your work.
Divya Reddy
2013-07-19 23:43:44 668
Described very nicely thank you sooo much
nisheet zehbi
2013-07-20 07:17:26 669
pretty good. thank you.
2013-11-26 07:57:52 727
Very precise and conincise, but what is the importance of plasmid to plant
Prajakta Bodkhe
2014-08-07 07:05:12 823
very well defined all the things
2014-09-06 05:32:01 829
Simply superb
Haris Khan
2014-10-22 10:38:36 847
this was very helpful to me
2015-02-12 07:25:03 907
2015-05-20 14:36:45 943
Materials that u hv provided are helpful 4me.thanx
2015-09-25 04:41:37 980
simple and best
Gourav Kumar..
2015-12-18 12:11:03 1016
Good explanation with easy lines. thanks
Gopala krishna
2016-01-25 04:32:45 1032
easy understanding....
2016-12-04 08:01:07 1137
di script ion is very short...i need more details about this topic...but otherwise...i understand
Faheem uz Zaman
2017-03-15 07:56:43 1191
Beautiful de script ion And very helpful
2017-05-06 21:19:24 1213
Very nice job .Its so easy to understand. Keep it up.rn
2017-07-24 08:39:52 1256
Pretty well defined.thank you
Sarah Ali
2017-07-29 13:32:01 1259
very short and clear understanding. Thank you.
Maitreya Vaidya
2017-08-09 20:15:51 1262
Superb easy to understand keep it up.

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