Storing data in DNA

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MIT technology review article about storing data in DNA and how this can be a lot easier than getting it back out. Humanity is creating information at an unprecedented rate—some 16 zettabytes every year (a zettabyte is one billion terabytes). Last year, the research group IDC calculated that we’ll be producing over 160 zettabytes every year by 2025.

Researchers have long known that DNA can be used for data storage. What’s impressive for computer scientists is the density of the data that DNA stores: a single gram can hold roughly a zettabyte.

Bacteria often carry genetic information in the form of tiny circular rings of double-stranded DNA called plasmids

The idea is simple:

  • Store data in plasmids inside bacterial cells that are trapped in a specific location
  • To retrieve send motile bacteria to this site
  • Conjugate with the trapped bacteria and capture the data-carrying plasmids
  • The motile bacteria carry this information to a device

But nobody has come up with a realistic system for storing data in a DNA library and then retrieving it again when it is needed. Innovation at your fingertips.

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Tags database programming