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A. FERNANDEZ-ASTORGA, A. FERNANDEZ DE ARANGUIZ, M. POCINO, A. UMARAN AND R. CISTERNA. 1992. The potential of the transfer of natural plasmids between sewage strains has been studied. In vitro transfer was conducted at 37°C in tryptone soya broth and sterile raw sewage as mating media. In situ transfer was carried out in sterile raw sewage within membrane diffusion chambers at 10.6°C. When the recipient was a laboratory strain of Escherichia coli K-12, the in situ frequency values were significantly lower (P < 0.001) than those obtained in vitro for the same mating pair. When the laboratory recipient was replaced with recipients from the same sewage source, frequency values decreased progressively from the optimum conditions to the most adverse. However, in situ frequency values were higher than those for the same donors mated with a laboratory recipient.