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Image of bacteria and synthetic DNA for article of transformation in biology.
Published On: November 2nd, 2021

Transformation is an important component of molecular genetics; studies into the process began in the 1920s when a physician named F.Griffith realized that Streptococcus pneumoniae could convert between being harmless and disease-causing.What is transformation in biology? The theory he had back then was that a “transforming principle” released by dead S.pneumoniae cells caused living cells around them to form a capsule membrane that turns the pathogen into its disease-causing form. This theory has since been expanded upon with the discovery of DNA.

So, what is the meaning of “transformation” in biology? Transformation is one of the three processes where genetic material is transferred from one microbial cell to another, the other two being conjugation and archaeal DNA transfer.

What is Transformation in Biology?

Transformation is the specific process where exogenous genetic material is directly taken up and incorporated by a cell through its cell membrane. This usually occurs when the cell is in a state of competence, which is a state where the cell can uptake exogenous material. A state of competence is typically a time-limited one caused by environmental conditions around the cell.

It can occur naturally in the environment or laboratory conditions referred to as natural competence. It can also be artificially induced by treating laboratory cultures to make cell membranes permeable to the exogenous genetic material around them.

Combining the knowledge of colony microbiology and transformation is a crucial part of molecular cloning and synthetic biology.

Uses of Transformation in the Lab

If you know why colonies are important in the study of microbiology and molecular biology and the different types of colonies, you must also understand what the transformation process is used for.

For example, molecular cloning, in which transformation plays a major part, is necessary for genome organization, recombinant protein production, creation of transgenic organisms, gene therapy, and more.

Bacterial Transformation In Biology: What is the Process?

In the lab, bacterial transformation is a four-step process. The first step begins with preparing competent cells that need to be transformed. This usually involves injecting a desired bacterial strain in a liquid medium as a starter culture and then creating a larger amount of culture. The strain is then made competent through the process of heat shock or electroporation.

Once cells are competent, they are put through another round of heat shock or electroporation in the presence of plasmid DNA. This results in the uptake of the plasmid DNA by the competent cells. The transformed cells are then cultured again to increase cell viability and efficiency of the molecular cloning process.

Lastly, when answering “what is transformation in biology” transformed cells are plated with the required resources to identify and recover the desired transformants. Then these transformants are used for other processes such as protein expression, subcloning, and plasmid isolation.

Make Transformation a East with the Right Tools for Your Lab

Whether it’s a media dispenser for a microbiology lab, colony picking tools to precisely select your desired strains, automated transformation systems, or the like, Hudson Robotics has your back. Look through the Hudson Robotics range of synthetic biology offerings, and contact us for a quote or consult today!