Difference between Cloning Vector and Plasmid Vector

Cloning Vector

It is a small DNA fragment that has the stability to act as a vector for cloning purposes. Usually, foreign DNA (gene of interest) is inserted into the cloning vector. After reaching the target cell, they can replicate and integrate with the target or host. These vectors can be of a virus cell, bacterial cell or even plasmid of a bacterial cell.

The vector has features like ori (origin of replication), a selectable marker and cloning sites to facilitate replication in the vector.

Types of Cloning Vector

  • Cosmid
  • Plasmid
  • Bacteriophage
  • BAC (Bacterial Artificial Chromosome)
  • HAC (Human Artificial Chromosome)
  • YAC (Yeast Artificial Chromosome)

Extended Reading: Cloning Vectors

Plasmid Vector

The plasmid is a type of vector commonly used in recombinant DNA technology. It is a double-stranded, circular, extrachromosomal DNA that is separated from the genomic DNA. Also, it has the remarkable property of self-replication inside the host cell. These plasmids are mostly found in bacteria, and sometimes even in eukaryotic cells and archaea.

Artificial Plasmid Vectors

There are some naturally obtained plasmid vectors like Ti plasmid in the plant bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens. It is a virulence plasmid that turns bacteria into a pathogen. Most plasmid vectors are artificially created in the laboratory. They have higher replication rates and are widely used in the field of genetic engineering. Examples – pBR322, pUC19 and pUC18.

Difference between Cloning Vector and Plasmid Vector

Cloning Vector

Plasmid Vector

It is a small DNA fragment that maintains stability inside the host cell. It creates numerous copies of the gene of interest inside the host cell.

It is an extrachromosomal, double-stranded circular DNA. It also has self-replicating properties.

Features – Ori (origin of replication), a selectable marker and restriction sites.

Features – They have all features of a cloning vector-like ori, restriction site, cloning site, etc. Also, they usually have an antibiotic-resistant gene.

Examples – Plasmid, Cosmid, Bacteriophage, BAC, HAC, and YAC.

Examples – Ti plasmid, pBR322, pUC19, and pUC18.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is genetic engineering?

It is a technique used to alter the genetic material – DNA AND RNA. Usually, new genes or genes of interest are inserted into the host cell to bring a phenotypical change in the organism.

What is gene cloning?

The gene of interest is isolated using the principles of genetic engineering. Then it is placed into the cloning vector (plasmid, bacteriophage, etc.). Here, the exact copies of the desired gene are cloned.


What is a Ti Plasmid?

It is a tumour inducing plasmid seen in the plant bacterium Agrobacterium tumifaciens. It is used as a cloning vector to deliver the DNA fragments into the host cell. Also, it is a naturally occurring plasmid vector.

Also Read: DNA Cloning

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