Definition of Competent Cells

Competent cells are those cells that have the capability of taking up the extracellular DNA that is present in their surrounding environment. This phenomenon of taking up the genetic material is known as transformation. At times, it happens that this genetic material tends to become a part of the cell’s own genome. The process in which the foreign genetic material gets incorporated into that of the host is termed as horizontal gene transfer (HGT).


This HGT is crucial for the eukaryotic cells due to the fact that the DNA has to cross the cell membrane as well as the nuclear membrane. On the contrary, the bacterial cells are easily made competent due to the lack of membrane-bounded nucleus.


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