DNA plasmid. Coloured atomic force micrograph of a pGL3 plasmid (blue) of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). A plasmid is a loop of DNA that can exist in a cell independently of the cell's chromosomal DNA. Plasmids are important as they can replicate and express genes despite being outside the organism's chromosomes. This means that they can be used to introduce genes to organisms in genetic research and engineering. At upper centre, the normally double-stranded DNA has unwound into two single strands (yellow). Atomic force microscopes make an image by moving a sensitive probe over a surface. Magnification: x120,000 at 6x6cm size.
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