We have developed a significantly improved method for the electroporation of plasmid DNA into Staphylococcus aureus. The highest transformation efficiency achieved with this procedure was 4.0 × 108 transformants per μg of plasmid pSK265 DNA. This represents a 530-fold improvement over the previously reported optimum efficiency of 7.5 × 105 transformants per μg of plasmid DNA after electroporation of S. aureus cells . Identical results were obtained when electrocompetent cells, which had been stored frozen at −80°C, were used. The improved efficiency is due primarily to the use of a modified medium (designated as B2 medium) and secondarily to the use of 0.1-cm cuvettes. Several other plasmids (pI258, pMH109, and pSK270) were also electrotransformed into competent cells using our procedure, and for each plasmid, the transformation efficiency was significantly reduced compared to that observed when pSK265 DNA was used. With respect to plasmid pI258, the transformation efficiency was 3500-fold higher than that reported previously for transformation of this plasmid into S. aureus RN4220 .
The optimized electroporation procedure was less successful in transforming other staphylococci. Electrocompetent cells of S. aureus ATCC 29213 and S. epidermidis ATCC 12228 produced 5.5 × 105 and 5 × 103 transformants per μg of pSK265 DNA, respectively.