Chromosomal gene transfer in Spiroplasma citri

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Science  19 Aug 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4868, pp. 959-961
DOI: 10.1126/science.3261453


The study of resistance marker rearrangement in Spiroplasma citri mutants provides evidence of transfer of chromosomal information followed by recombination. This is the first report of such a transfer in vivo in the mollicutes--that is, in the smallest self-replicating organisms. The double-resistant phenotypes obtained are stable even without selection pressure. The mechanism of gene transfer is insensitive to deoxyribonuclease, requires contact, and possibly, areas of fusion of the cell membranes; it shares properties with the transfer by protoplast fusion in Gram-positive bacteria. The extensive degenerative evolution of mollicutes has retained, in S. citri, bacterial functions of chromosomal transfer and recombination.