The various mechanisms of mutation described above result in an alteration in the genetic make-up of an organism. This can also occur by recombination, in which genetic material from two cells combines to produce a variant different to either parent cell.
In bacteria, this involves the transfer of DNA from one cell (donor) to another (recipient). Because transfer occurs between cells of the same generation (unlike the genetic variation brought about by sexual reproduction in eucaryotes, where it is passed to the next generation), it is sometimes referred to as horizontal transfer. There are three ways in which gene transfer can occur in bacteria, which we shall explore in the following sections.
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