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Understanding antibiotic resistance
Understanding antibiotic resistance

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2.2 Conjugation

In the process of conjugation, plasmids are transferred between two contacting bacteria via a hollow tube or pilus (Figure 7).

A schematic representation the process of conjugation.
Figure 7 The process of conjugation. (a) A hollow pilus connects two bacteria and plasmid DNA is transferred from the donor bacterium to the recipient. (b) Scanning-electron micrograph of two bacteria attached by pili.

Since antibiotic resistance genes are often located on plasmids, conjugation can result in the transfer of antibiotic resistance from one bacterium to another.