Chromosomal DNA fragments encoding the ability to utilize biphenyl as sole carbon source (Bph) were mobilized by means of plasmid RP4::Mu3A from strain JB1 (tentatively identified as sp.) to CH34 at a frequency of 10 per transferred plasmid. The mobilized DNA integrated into the recipient chromosome or was recovered as catabolic prime plasmids. Three Bph prime plasmids were transferred from to and back to without modification of the phenotype. The transferred Bph DNA segments allowed metabolism of biphenyl, 2-, 3- and 4-chlorobiphenyl, and diphenylmethane. Genes involved in biphenyl degradation were identified on the prime plasmids by DNA-DNA hybridization and by gene cloning. Bph prime plasmids were transferred to and and the catabolic genes were expressed in those hosts. Transfer of the plasmid to the 3-chlorobenzoate-degrading bacterium sp. B13 allowed the recipient to mineralize 3-chlorobiphenyl. Other catabolic prime plasmids were obtained from JB1 by selection on -hydroxybenzoate and tyrosine as carbon sources. 16S rRNA sequence data demonstrated that the transfer of was achieved between bacteria belonging to two different branches of the β-Proteobacteria.


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