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Transduction: The transfer of genetic material from one cell to another by a bacteriophage is

called transduction. The phenomenon of transduction was first discovered by Zinder and
Lederberg (1952) while searching for sexual conjugation in Salmonells sp.

Transduction is of two types: Generalized transduction and Specialized Transduction

Generalised Transduction: Generalized transduction was discovered in 1952 by Norton Zinder

and Joshua Ledergerg. This type of transduction, generalised transduction is a more
common event. It is mediated by the prophages that have remained in the cytoplasm as
plasmids that are not attached to the chromosome. This occurs in PI phage and many
others. The viral DNA lies in the cytoplasm and produces copies of itself for new phage
particles. In doing so it may accidentally incorporate small chromosomal segments of
bacterial DNA and incorporates these to its own DNA. Some phages may accidentally
package only bacterial DNA. In most cases, normal viruses will be liberated from the
cell. Occassionally, a virus contains several bacterial genes acquired in the chromosomal

If such a virus infects a new cell, whereupon they will attach to the chromosome and
transduce the cell as lysogeny is established. In generalised transduction, the viral DNA
enters the lytic cycle and forms new virus particles

However, tiny fragments of bacterial chromosome are sometimes incorporated into the
DNA of the new viruses or may occasionally replace the viral DNA. This is a random
occurrence that may involve any of the bacterial genes, hence the name generalised
transduction. Perhaps one phage in a thousand contains bacterial DNA. All bacterial
genes are equally available to be picked up by the phage DNA.

When the viral particles are released during lysis, the genes are carried along
and on subsequent infection, the genes enter the cytoplasm of the new host cell where
they will now function.The phenomenon of lysogeny is well established in modern
microbiology. Diphtheria organisms are known to contain bacteriophages that code for
the toxin produced during disease. Herpes simplex viruses remain for many years as
prophages in the cytoplasm of the body cells, expressing themselves at, long intervals.
Certain viruses are known to attach to human chromosomes, transforming the cells to
tumour cells.
Abortive Transduction: When a segment of bacterial DNA (exogenote) is introduced into the
another bacterium by a bacteriophage, the exogenate may be integrated into the recipient
bacterial chromosome. This type of transduction is called complete transduction. In
contrast, when the exogenote is not integrated into the endogenote and remains free, it is
called abortive transduction

Important differences are:

• Generalized transduction - all regions of chromosome transduced, only

chromosomal DNA (i.e., no phage DNA) in transducing particles.
• Specialized transduction - only specific regions of chromosome located near
attachment site are transduced, transducing particles carry both
chromosomal DNA and phage DNA.

Specialized Transduction/ Restricted Transduction: The bacterium may remain

lysogenic for many generations during which time the viral DNA replicates together with
the bacterium. However, at some point in the future, the phage stops coding the repressor
protein, and the lytic cycle will begin. The viral DNA that was attached to the
chromosome will now break free and direct the synthesis of those proteins that will yield
new viruses.

In detaching, however, the viral DNA may carry with it a few bacterial genes from the
chromosome. The genes are then replicated along wi gvvth the viral DNA and they
become part of the new phage particles. When the latter are released, copies of the genes
are carried along. As the cycle repeats during the next infection, phage DNA enters the
new bacterial cells and inserts onto a new chromosome. However, copies of the original,
bacterial genes are included, and the bacterium becomes transduced. The bacterial cell
now contains its own genes plus several from the original cell. This type of transduction
is called specialised transduction, because specific genes are removed from the bacterial
chromosome, depending upon where the viral DNA was attached. This occurs in lambda
phage. The removal of genes, however, is thought to be an extremely rare event.

Specialized transduction is transduction in which only certain donor genes can be

transferred to the recipient. Different phages may transfer different genes but an
individual phage can only transfer certain genes. Specialized transduction is mediated by
lysogenic or temperate phage and the genes that get transferred will depend on where the
prophage has inserted in the chromosome. During excision of the prophage, occasionally
an error occurs where some of the host DNA is excised with the phage DNA. Only host
DNA on either side of where the prophage has inserted can be transferred (i.e. specialized
transduction). After replication and release of phage and infection of a recipient,
lysogenization of recipient can occur resulting in the stable transfer of donor genes. The
recipient will now have two copies of the gene(s) that were transferred. Legitimate
recombination between the donor and recipient genes is also possible.

Example of specialized transduction is λ phages in Escherichia coli.

Specialized transduction by a temperate bacteriophage