|plasmid (plāz'mĭd) Pronunciation Key
A small, circular unit of DNA that replicates within a cell independently of the chromosomal DNA and is most often found in bacteria. Certain plasmids can insert themselves into chromosomes in places where there is a common sequence of nucleotides. Plasmids contain a few genes, which usually code for proteins, especially enzymes, some of which confer resistance to antibiotics. Plasmids are used in recombinant DNA research, especially to transform bacterial cells. See more at transformation.