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Conjugation mechanism

Conjugation is controlled by plasmids. Only plasmids with specific genes can undergo conjugation. Conjugation occurs in several steps.

  1. The donor cell has protein filaments on the outside of the cell called sex pili. These sex pili (singular pilus) seek out a recipient cell and attach to it.
  2. The attachment of the sex pili causes the two cells to fuse, creating a cytoplasmic bridge called the conjugation tube.
  3. At this point, the plasmid DNA is replicated and passes through the conjugation tube, into the recipient cell.

This completes the transfer and the cells separate.