Biotechnology Letters, Vol.23, No.10, 831-838, 2001
Plasmid maintenance and recombinant cell fitness explored in bacterial colonies
During growth of recombinant bacteria, irregular plasmid partitioning generates non-productive, plasmid-free cells whose proportion usually increases in the culture. For Escherichia coli producing engineered beta -galactosidases, we have shown a coincidence between plasmid stability and the extension of white/blue areas within individual colonies on X-gal plates. In this context, a good correlation between plasmid permanence in colonies and parameters accurately describing the dynamics of plasmid-free cell population in liquid cultures has been observed. Moreover, the impact of lacZ gene engineering and the metabolic burden imposed by the encoded proteins has been evaluated through plasmid stability by simple image analysis, revealing an enhanced plasmid loss rate as the cells enter into the stationary phase that is modulated by the expression of particular recombinant genes.