• Open Access

Plasmid addiction systems: perspectives and applications in biotechnology


E-mail steinbu@uni-muenster.de; Tel. (+49) 251 8339821; Fax (+49) 251 8338388.


Biotechnical production processes often operate with plasmid-based expression systems in well-established prokaryotic and eukaryotic hosts such as Escherichia coli or Saccharomyces cerevisiae, respectively. Genetically engineered organisms produce important chemicals, biopolymers, biofuels and high-value proteins like insulin. In those bioprocesses plasmids in recombinant hosts have an essential impact on productivity. Plasmid-free cells lead to losses in the entire product recovery and decrease the profitability of the whole process. Use of antibiotics in industrial fermentations is not an applicable option to maintain plasmid stability. Especially in pharmaceutical or GMP-based fermentation processes, deployed antibiotics must be inactivated and removed. Several plasmid addiction systems (PAS) were described in the literature. However, not every system has reached a full applicable state. This review compares most known addiction systems and is focusing on biotechnical applications.