In this practical protocol students investigate one way in which bacteria acquire antibiotic resistance through conjugation - horizontal gene transfer from one bacterial strain or species to another.

Plasmid-mediated evolution is fast because whole functional ‘modules’ are lost and gained, rather than the gradual process of mutation and selection that is more commonly encountered in the chromosomal DNA. Plasmids often carry genes which impart the ability to withstand antibiotic action. Conjugation is therefore an important means by which antibiotic resistance is spread between bacteria.

This investigation takes place over three lessons and it also presents opportunities for preparatory and follow-up tasks.

The Survival Rivals resources were produced by the Wellcome Trust.

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