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A recombinant plasmid carrying the recA gene of Aeromonas caviae was isolated from an A. caviae genomic library by complementation of an Escherichia coli recA mutant. The plasmid restored resistance to both UV irradiation and to the DNA-damaging agent methyl methanesulfonate in the E. coli recA mutant strain. The cloned gene also restored recombination proficiency as measured by the formation of lac+ recombinants from duplicated mutant lacZ genes and by the ability to propagate a strain of phage lambda (red gam) that requires host recombination functions for growth. The approximate location of the recA gene on the cloned DNA fragment was determined by constructing deletions and by the insertion of Tn5, both of which abolished the ability of the recombinant plasmid to complement the E. coli recA strains. A. caviae recA::Tn5 was introduced into A. caviae by P1 transduction. The resulting A. caviae recA mutant strain was considerably more sensitive to UV light than was its parent. Southern hybridization analysis indicated that the A. caviae recA gene has diverged from the recA genes from a variety of gram-negative bacteria, including A. hydrophila and A. sobria. Maxicell labeling experiments revealed that the RecA protein of A. caviae had an Mr of about 39,400.