Biological systems have been using DNA as an information storage molecule for billions of years. Vast amounts of data can thus be encoded within microscopic volumes, and we carry the proof of this concept in the cells of our own bodies.
Could this ultimate storage solution meet the ever-growing needs of archivists in this age of digital information?
Stored in DNA
A team of researchers headed by Nick Goldman and Ewan Birney at the European Bioinformatics Institute of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL-EBI) has dramatically demonstrated the potential of the technique to store and transport human-made data.
Their data included some well-chosen iconic elements: Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, an audio excerpt from Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, Watson and Crick’s classic paper on the structure of DNA, and a colour photograph of the European Bioinformatics Institute.
These files, in common digital formats found on almost every desktop computer, were encoded byte-by-byte as DNA molecules, shipped from the USA to Germany without specialised packaging, and finally decoded back into their original electronic formats.
Although the study involved less than a megabyte of data in total, this is already orders of magnitude more than has previously been encoded as synthesised DNA.
Written By: Jonathan Keithcontinue to source article at theconversation.edu.au