Plasmids and Their Role in Natural Aquatic Bacterial Communities

  • Christian Schütt
Part of the Brock/Springer Series in Contemporary Bioscience book series (BROCK/SPRINGER)


Microbial ecology is based on the interactions of microbial processes within the ecosystems and requires substantial knowledge of taxonomic structures and physiological functions of the natural bacterial communities (Overbeck, 1972; Odum, 1973). The taxonomical structures are not formed accidentally. Rather, they reflect the actual environmental conditions. Bacterial communities contain diverse members of many taxonomic groups and show highly specialized physiological properties. Besides data on taxonomic characteristics, a quantification of microbial processes needs information on habitat-specific physiological functions and metabolic interactions. However, the complex structures and functions are never stable. They are subjected to dynamic environmental and genetic changes. Genetic changes are initiated by different mechanisms, including gene expression, mutations, gene amplification, transposition, and extrachromosomal DNA. In particular, gene transfer of viral or plasmid origin seems to be responsible for some genetic changes (Reanney, 1976). Although most information on gene transfer has been obtained under laboratory conditions, there is evidence that transduction of viral DNA, transformation of chromosomal and/or plasmid DNA, and conjugation (plasmid transfer) may play a major role in genetic adaptation processes within the natural environment (Stewart and Carlson, 1986; Colwell, 1987).


Bacterial Community Humic Substance Extracellular Polymeric Substance German Bight Environmental Microbiology 
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  • Christian Schütt

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