Fluorescence microscopy was used to determine the location(s) of the replication origin of plasmid R1 in exponentially growing cells of Escherichia coli. The number of oriR1 foci per cell was smaller than the number of R1 copies per cell and was found to be the same for a copA mutant of R1 and for the wild-type plasmid. The intensities of individual foci were stronger for the cop mutant than for the wild type. We interpreted these results to imply that the plasmid DNA molecules were localized in small groups/clusters, a result that seems contrary to the earlier observations that plasmid R1 replicates randomly and segregates as a single-copy unit. The implications for the quantitative behavior of plasmid R1 in stability, incompatibility tests, replication, and partition experiments are discussed.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.