The uptake of exogenous DNA materials through the cell membrane by bacteria, known as transformation, is essential for the genetic manipulation of bacteria and, thus, plays key roles in biotechnological and biological research. The efficiency of natural transformation is very low; therefore, various artificial transformation methods have been developed for simple and efficient bacterial transformation. The basic bacterial transformation method is based on chemical, physical, and electrical processes and other means to permeabilize the bacterial cell membrane to allow plasmid DNA uptake. With the introduction of novel chemicals, materials, and devices and the optimization of protocols, new transformation methods have become simpler, cheaper, and more reproducible for use in diverse bacterial species compared with conventional methods. In this review, artificial transformation methods have been classified according to the membrane-permeabilizing mechanisms employed by them. Their influential factors, transformation efficiency, advantages, disadvantages, and practical applications are briefly illustrated. Finally, physicochemical transformation as a new bacterial transformation technique has also been described.
Keywords: Biotechnology; Cell membrane permeability; Genetic manipulation; Plasmid DNA; Transformation.