Storing Data in DNA Now Possible


Tue, Jan 29th, 2013 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

As noted back in August, scientists had been working on a method to use DNA to store data. Reportedly, scientists were now able to convert "739 kilobytes of hard drive data in genetic code and then retrieved the content with 100 percent accuracy." The read-write process sounds like it needs a bit of tweaking, but otherwise a very impressive feat.

The researchers began with the computer files from some notable cultural highlights: an audio recording of MLK Jr.'s 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech, all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets, and, appropriately, a copy of Watson and Crick's original research paper describing DNA's double helix structure. On a hard drive, these files are stored as a series of zeros and ones. The researchers worked out a system to translate the binary code into one with four characters instead: A, C, G and T. They used this genetic code to synthesize actual strands of DNA with the content embedded in its very structure.

The output was actually pretty unimpressive: just a smidgeon of stuff barely visible at the bottom of a test tube. The wow factor arose when they reversed the process. The researchers sequenced the genome of the data-laden DNA and translated it back into zeros and ones. The result was a re-creation of the original content without a single error, according to the results published in Nature on Wednesday.



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