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In genetics, the process of electroporation is used for the transformation of bacteria. Bacterial cell walls can be weakened by a careful process of freezing to make them "electrocompetent". If electrocompetent bacteria and plasmids are mixed together, the plasmid can be transferred into the cell by using an electric discharge to carry the plasmid into cells in the path of the spark crossing the reaction chamber. Several thousand volts are typically used in this process. Afterwards, the cells have to be handled carefully until they have had a chance to divide, producing new cells (with normal tough cell walls) containing reproduced plasmid. This process is usually 10× as effective as chemical transformation.

This procedure is also highly efficient for the introduction of foreign genes in tissue culture cells, especially mammalian cells, or similar.