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Transformation in genetic research

In the laboratory, transformation is widely used to introduce new genes into bacteria for the purpose of studying gene function.

Most bacteria cannot easily take up DNA from their environment (roughly 1% in a laboratory are able to take up DNA with no aid).

As a result, artificial aids are used to make the bacterial cell membrane permeable to extracellular DNA.

Bacteria are often placed in a calcium chloride solution ($$\ce{CaCl2}$$), and then heat shocked (heated quickly) to make the cell permeable to the DNA strand that needs to be introduced.

Unlike naturally occurring transformation, artificial transformation is passive and does not require specialised membrane proteins.

This means that any type of DNA can be introduced into the bacterial cell, even DNA that has not come from a bacterial genome.