Storage and successful retrieval of a huge amount of data utilizing DNA strands

Dr Nick Goldman of EMBL-EBI, looking at synthesized DNA in a phial (Credit: EMBL Photolab)

Dr Nick Goldman of EMBL-EBI, looking at synthesized DNA in a phial (Credit: EMBL Photolab)

Researchers have converted the dream of a huge amount of DNA storage and its accurate retrieval into reality.

This research has been published online in the journal Nature.

In this research, scientists have successfully stored an audio file of 26 seconds from the Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I have a dream” speech on the adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine components of synthesized DNA. Not only had this but they also stored all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, a digital photo of their laboratory and the famous paper of James Watson and Francis Crick about the description of double-stranded DNA on DNA. This research presented the storage of huge amount of 2.2 petabytes of data per gram of DNA.

“We already know that DNA is a robust way to store information because we can extract it from wooly mammoth bones, which date back tens of thousands of years, and make sense of it,” Dr Nick Goldman of EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), said in a statement. “It’s also incredibly small, dense and does not need any power for storage, so shipping and keeping it is easy.”

Previously scientists from Harvard University reported the storage of 704 terabytes of data in a gram of DNA and the research was published in the journal Science.

Scientists, in this study, also corrected the errors on previous DNA-encoding techniques and accurately regained 100% information. In order to do this, scientists reserved one of the letters to break up the long runs of any of the other three bases.

Generalized approach to the storage of the data on DNA (Credit: Goldman et al., Nature)

Generalized approach to the storage of the data on DNA (Credit: Goldman et al., Nature)

DNA storage is highly anticipated because memory in DNA could be stored for thousands of years without special storage requirements such as cold, dark and/or dry. It is proposed that one gram of single-stranded DNA can store nearly 100 billion DVDs of data that can help to store a huge amount of data by large organizations such as CERN in a small place.

“We’ve created a code that’s error tolerant using a molecular form we know will last in the right conditions for 10 000 years, or possibly longer,” Nick said. “As long as someone knows what the code is, you will be able to read it back if you have a machine that can read DNA.”

Although, this storage technique is highly efficient but is also very much costly.

Reference:

Goldman, N., Bertone, P., Chen, S., Dessimoz, C., LeProust, E., Sipos, B., & Birney, E. (2013). Towards practical, high-capacity, low-maintenance information storage in synthesized DNA Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature11875