How bacterial cells are made competent to take up DNA?
Since, DNA is a hydrophilic molecule, it cannot pass through the cell membranes. In order to force bacteria to take up the plasmid, the bacterial cells must first be made competent to take up DNA. This is done by treating them with a specific concentration of a divalent cation such as calcium, which increases the efficiency with which DNA enters the bacterium through the pores in its cell wall. Recombinant DNA can then be forced into such cells by incubating the cells with recombinant DNA on ice, followed by placing them briefly at 42°C (heat shock), and then putting them back on ice. This enables the bacteria to take up the recombinant DNA.