Bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) are vectors used to clone DNA fragments in bacteria. They are widely used in molecular biology for various applications, including genomic sequencing, functional genomics, and transgenic animal production. BACs are particularly valuable for their ability to carry large DNA inserts, making them essential tools for studying complex genomes.

Structure and Features of Bacterial Artificial Chromosomes

BACs are circular DNA molecules derived from the F-plasmid, a naturally occurring plasmid found in the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli). They typically range in size from 100 to 300 kilobases (kb) and contain a few key elements:

  1. Origin of Replication: BACs contain an origin of replication that allows them to replicate within bacterial cells.
  2. Selectable Marker: A selectable marker, often an antibiotic resistance gene, is included to ensure that bacteria containing the BAC can be easily identified and selected for.
  3. Cloning Site: BACs have a cloning site where large DNA fragments can be inserted.
  4. Insert Size: One of the defining features of BACs is their ability to accommodate large DNA inserts, often up to 300 kb in size.

Applications of Bacterial Artificial Chromosomes

BACs have numerous applications in molecular biology and genetics:

  1. Genomic Sequencing: BAC libraries are used to sequence and assemble large genomes due to their ability to carry substantial DNA inserts.
  2. Functional Genomics: BAC transgenics allow researchers to study gene function by introducing specific DNA fragments into model organisms.
  3. Transgenic Animal Production: BACs are utilized to generate transgenic animals with specific genetic modifications for research purposes.
  4. Physical Mapping: BAC clones are employed in physical mapping of genomes, aiding in the assembly of contigs and scaffolds during genome sequencing projects.
  5. Comparative Genomics: BACs facilitate comparative genomic studies by allowing the analysis of large genomic regions across different species.

Advantages of Bacterial Artificial Chromosomes

BACs offer several advantages over other cloning vectors:

  1. Large Insert Capacity: Their ability to carry large DNA inserts makes them invaluable for studying complex genomes and regulatory elements.
  2. Stability: BACs are relatively stable within bacterial cells, allowing for the maintenance of large DNA fragments during cloning and propagation.
  3. Ease of Manipulation: They can be manipulated using standard molecular biology techniques, facilitating their use in various experimental procedures.
  4. Compatibility with High-Throughput Technologies: BAC libraries can be readily integrated into high-throughput sequencing and screening platforms.


Bacterial artificial chromosomes are essential tools in molecular biology and genetics, enabling the cloning and manipulation of large DNA fragments for a wide range of applications. Their structural features, insert capacity, and versatility make them indispensable for studying complex genomes and conducting functional genomics research.

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