Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Are plasmids a new form of life different than viruses and bacteria?

Plasmids are like swap-out plug-in superpowers for bacteria. Bacteria can 'upload' them much like Neo in the Matrix uploads Kung Fu, only in bacteria it seems to be the plasmids that are in control: obligate parasites. They say this is the planet of the bacteria, but maybe they're just the metaphorical shells of the hermit crabs, the real kings of the planet, the plasmids. Listed below are a few of the common superpowers they confer on their mild-mannered hosts.

Fertility, ability to conjugate (tra)
Toxin production (Shiga, tabtoxin, Diptheria)
Symbiosis (pSYMin Rhizobiumspp.)
Restriction / Modification (enzymes)
Hydrocarbon metabolism (2,4-D, toluene)
Antibiotic-resistance (StrR, AmpR, TetR,ChlR)
Antibiotic production (Colicins, Agrocin)
Heavy metal resistance (Hg2+, Zn2+, Cu2+)
Virulence (vir, pili)
Tumorigenicity(in plants) (tmr, tms, iaa)

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