This short review is cordially dedicated to Prof. Adolf Ellinger. Many of the herein presented data and related conclusions were obtained in co-operation with him, whose serious but often humoristic and occasionally sarcastic approach to scientific problems was always challenging and stimulating at the same time.
Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) was observed by incubation of an amino acid-deficient strain of Escherichia coli (AB1157) with particles gained from an oligotrophic environment, when all deficiencies were restored with frequencies up to 1.94 × 10−5 and no preference for a single marker. Hence, the DNA transfer to the revertant cells was carried out by generalized transduction. Those particles display structural features of outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) but contain high amounts of DNA. Due to a process called serial transduction, the revertant’s particles were likewise transferring genetic information to deficient E. coli AB1157 cells. These results indicate a new way of HGT, in which mobilized DNA is transferred in particles from the donor to the recipient. Extracted OMV-associated DNA of known alpha-, and gamma-proteobacterials, Ahrensia kielensis and Pseudoalteromonas marina, respectively, was larger than 30 kbp with all sequences in single copy and identified as prokaryotic sequences. Inserted viral sequences were not found.