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Bacterial genetics
DNA molecule structure, base
arrangements: double helix strands;
composed of many neucleotides; A & G
are purine; C & T are pyrimidine
1. Structure : small circular DNA molecule
that can exist independently of host
chromosome. They have their own
replication origins, carry fewer genes
compared to DNA.
2. types of plasmids and importance : 6
different types.
1. (a)meaning : an inherited change in
the base sequence of the genome of
an organism
2. (b)replica plating : a technique used
to detect auxotrophic* mutants.
3. (c)types of mutation
(i)molecular types of mutations- base pair(point
mutation): affects only one base pair in a given
location. Transition : replacement of a pyrimidine on
one strand by a different pyrimidine/ replacement of
a purine on one strand by a different purine.
Transversion : purine replace pyrimidine vice versa.
silent mutation : do not alter phenotype of organism
and go undetected. More than one codon for a given
amino acid. ‘wobble” – variability in the 3rd base
 Missense mutation : involves a single base
substitution in the DNA that changes a codon for
one a.a. into a codon for another. Expressed at
the level of protein structure
 however at the level of protein function, the effect may
range from complete loss of activity to no change at all.
 Many proteins are still functional after substitution
of a single a.a. but depends on the type and
location of the a.a.
 Eg. 1. – replacement of a nonpolar with
polar a.a.- drastic change
 Eg 2. – replacement of a critical a.a. at the
active site will destroy its activity
 Eg. 3 – replacement of one polar with
another polar a.a., may have little/ no
 Missense mutation
 provides evolution
 often non-lethal/remain in the pool.
 (ii)frameshifts mutation: causes a change in he 3 base

sequences read as codons; a change in the phase of

transcription arising from the addition and deletion of
nucelotides makes reading frame to be shifted for all
codons downstream. Often very deleterious and yield
mutants phenotypes.
(iii)conditional lethal mutations: expressed only under certain
environment conditions. Eg: E. coli - cannot grow under one
condition but can under another. T sensitive, does not express
at low T, die at high T, grow normally at a permissible T.
chemically caused mutations: induced
mutations: mutagen that directly damages
DNA/interferes with repair mechanism.
 Intercalating agents : acridines such as proflavin &
acridine orange. These mutagens become inserted
between two DNA base pairs, thereby pushing
them apart. Thery induce frameshift mutations..
These mutagens are planar and insert themselves
between the stacked bases of the helix.
 5-bromouracil : base analogs – similar to
nitrogenous bases and can be incorporated
into the growing polynucleotide chain
during replication. These analogs have
slightly altered copying error properties. 5
–bromouracil is incorporated into DNA in
place of thymine but often pairs with G.
 nitrous acid : converts the base A to a form
that no longer pairs with T but instead
pairs with C. Eventually, AT base pair of
the parent will change to GC base pair in a
grand daughter cell. Therefore it is a point
 alkylating agent : methyl-nitrosoguanidine
- adds methyl groups to G, causing it to
mispair with T
physical causes of mutations
 UV: formation of thymine dimers. Most mutagenic
component of UV; WL = 260 nm. Formation of covalent
bonds between adjacent T in a DNA forming dimers.
 DNA repair mechanism: excision repair : general repair
system that corrects damage that causes distortion in the
double helix. Enzyme that cuts out the damage DNA is called
Uvr protein (endonuclease)
 photoreactivation repair : repair of T dimers by splitting
them apart into separate T with the help of visible light in a
photochemical reaction catalyzed by the enzyme PRE
(photoreactivation enzyme). Can function in the dark but
PRE must absorb a light photon.
Transformation in bacteria:
Genes are transferred from one bacterium to
another as DNA
In nature, some bacteria after death and cell
lysis, release their DNA into the environment
and other bacteria depending on species,
growth conditions take up fragments of DNA
integrate them into their own chromosomes
by recombination that results in hybrid.
Conjugation in bacteria
1. requires direct cell to cell contact
2. cells must be of opposite mating type,
donor cells carry plasmid, recipient
cells do not
3. sex pili needed
Transduction in bacteria:
bacterial DNA is transferred from a
donor cell to a recipient cell inside a
virus that infects bacteria,