STORING INFORMATION IN DNA – AN INNOVATION
Researchers led by Nick Goldman at the European Bioinformatics Institute, UK synthesised DNA to encode an eclectic mix of information in its adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine components. They used these “letters” to record an audio file of 26 seconds of King’s speech, all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, a digital photo of their laboratory and the famous paper in which James Watson and Francis Crick first described the double-helical structure of DNA.
The team built on previous DNA-encoding techniques by adding error correction, allowing content to be retrieved with 100 per cent accuracy. The process involved the conversion of ones and zeroes of digital information into the four letter alphabet of DNA code (A,T,C and G) which was used to create synthetic DNA strands. Machines read the DNA molecules and recovered the encoded information.
DNA-based memory is sought after because DNA can last for thousands of years without special storage, other than being somewhere cold, dark and dry. In theory, DNA can encode roughly the capacity of 100 billion DVDs per gram of single-stranded DNA.