Not all bacteria have acquired F-plasmids through conjugation. Some of the mechanisms for this are unsuccesful conjugation events (mechanical disruption), no transfer due to integration in bacterial chromosome, etc (See previous question and answer).

Now I am wondering if there are also mechanisms that self-limit the conjugation and transfer of F-plasmids. For instance that a bacterium can only transfer its F-plasmid once during its lifetime.


Yes there are many such mechanisms.

One of the simplest, but perhaps most easily overlooked, is metabolism. Conjugation requires ATP. In environments with low levels of nutrients, heterotrophs might not have enough "extra" ATP to fuel the conjugation process. Note that both donor and recipient need to expend ATP in conjugation. The donor needs to make the nicking enzyme, the pilus, and extrude the DNA into the recipient, and the recipient needs to synthesize DNA from the single-strand DNA that it has received.

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