polymerase to replicate the DNA molecule. In addition, recombinant plas-mids contain one or more selectable markers. A selectable marker is a gene that confers on the bacterium harboring the plasmid the ability to survive under conditions in which bacteria lacking the plasmid would otherwise die. Usually, such genes encode enzymes that enable the bacterium to live and grow despite the presence of an antibiotic drug.

The recombinant plasmid is then introduced into a host cell, such as an Escherichia coli bacterium, by a process called transformation, and the cell is allowed to multiply and form a large population of cells. Each of these cells harbors many identical copies of the recombinant plasmid. The cells are then cultured in growth media containing the antibiotic to which the plasmid confers resistance. This ensures that only cells containing the recombinant plasmid will survive and replicate. A researcher then harvests the cells and can extract and purify many copies of the plasmid.

Another method to produce many copies of a DNA molecule, which is even simpler than traditional recombinant cloning methods, is the poly-merase chain reaction (PCR). PCR amplifies the DNA in a reaction tube without the need for a plasmid to be grown in bacteria.

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