Mini-transposons in microbial ecology and environmental biotechnology

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Mini-transposon is the generic name given to the members of a collection of genetic assets derived from transposons Tn10 and Tn5, in which the naturally occurring functional segments of DNA have been rearranged artificially to originate shorter mobile elements. In the most widespread design (that known as the pUT system), any heterologous DNA segment can be conveniently cloned within the boundaries of a mini-Tn5 vector and finally inserted into the chromosome of target Gram-negative bacteria after a few simple genetic manipulations. The large variety of antibiotic, non-antibiotic and excisable selection markers available has been combined at ease with DNA fragments encoding one or more phenotypes of interest for ecological or biotechnological applications. These include the tagging of specific strains in a community with selectable and/or optical marker genes, the production of stable gene fusions for monitoring transcriptional regulation in single cells, the metabolic engineering of strains destined for bioremediation, the non-disruptive monitoring of gene transfer and the assembly of gene containment and strain containment circuits for genetically manipulated microorganisms.

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