SUMMARY: The effect of various lipophilic weak acids on the stability of certain TOL plasmids was investigated. Benzoate induced deletion of TOL plasmid DNA in MT15, followed by loss of the plasmid; this effect was pH- and concentration-dependent, suggesting that undissociated benzoic acid was a more effective curing agent than the benzoate anion. Plasmid loss always approached a frequency of 100% after a lag and apparently depended on the prior occurrence of deletions, although deleted plasmid was stably maintained in the absence of the acid. -Toluate, acetate and butyrate also induced deletions and plasmid loss at high frequencies, although these acids were less effective than benzoate. Benzoate inhibited the growth of plasmid-containing cells rather than permitting faster growth of cured cells on benzoate. Similar results were obtained with strains MT20 and MT84, which contain different TOL plasmids. We suggest that lipophilic weak acids induced deletions, possibly by excision of a transposon-like region, and disrupted the segregation of deleted plasmid.


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