R-factor

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R-factor is an old name for a plasmid that codes for antibiotic resistance. Often, R-factors code for more than one antibiotic resistance factor: genes that encode resistance to unrelated antibiotics may be carried on a single R-factor. Many R-factors can pass from one bacterium to another through bacterial conjugation and are a common means by which antibiotic resistance spreads between bacterial species, genera and even families. For example RP1, a plasmid that encodes resistance to ampicillin, tetracycline and kanamycin originated in a species of Pseudomonas, from the Family Pseudomonadaceae, but can also be maintained in bacteria belonging to the family Enterobacteriaceae, such as Escherichia coli.




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