SUMMARY: Phenethyl alcohol (PEA) has been found to obstruct genetic transformation in A concentration of 0.3 % (v/v) PEA prevents the development of competence and destroys predeveloped competence without causing a measurable decrease in viable cells. Treatment of competent cells with 0.3 % PEA prior to their exposure to transforming deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) causes the cells to become incapable of irreversibly incorporating DNA. Treatment of competent cells which have irreversibly incorporated DNA with 0.3 % PEA causes a reduction in the rate of transformation. These observations suggest that PEA affects the ability of competent cells to irreversibly incorporate DNA and also affects the cells’ ability to express the DNA in the form of transformed cells once the DNA is irreversibly incorporated. The possible nature of the effect of PEA on competent cells is discussed.


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