Plasmid DNA on a mineral sheet, Computational simulation, Circular plasmid DNA on a mineral sheet, studied using molecular dynamics simulations to see whether the sheets can protect the DNA against extreme conditions such as those found in deep ocean hydrothermal vents. If they do it would lend support to the idea that a group of minerals called Layered Double Hydroxides could be an ideal protective and catalytic scaffold for the creation of biological molecules and hence the origin of life.
A plasmid is an extra-chromosomal DNA molecule separate from the chromosomal DNA which is capable of replicating independently of the chromosomal DNA. In many cases, it is circular and double-stranded. Plasmids usually occur naturally in bacteria, but are sometimes found in eukaryotic organisms (e.g., the 2-micrometre-ring in Saccharomyces cerevisiae).
Plasmid size varies from 1 to over 200 kilobase pairs (kbp). The number of identical plasmids within a single cell can be zero, one, or even thousands under some circumstances. Plasmids can be considered to be part of the mobilome, since they are often associated with conjugation, a mechanism of horizontal gene transfer.
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