Plasmids are perceived as mobile genetic elements that exist extra- chromosomally and occasionally carry accessory genes that confer an advantage to their host in its ecological niche. They are thus thought to play an important evolutionary role in microbial communities by laterally introducing genes and traits into microbial genomes. Plasmids are important vehicles for rapid adaptation of bacterial populations to changing environmental conditions. The genetic variation generated by plasmid carriage within populations ensures the robustness towards environmental change. Plasmid-mediated gene transfer plays an important role not only in the mobilization and dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes but also in the spread of degradative pathways and pathogenicity determinants of pathogens.