Navigation Links
EMBL-EBI researchers make DNA storage a reality
Date:1/23/2013

Researchers at the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) have created a way to store data in the form of DNA a material that lasts for tens of thousands of years. The new method, published today in the journal Nature, makes it possible to store at least 100 million hours of high-definition video in about a cup of DNA.

There is a lot of digital information in the world about three zettabytes' worth (that's 3000 billion billion bytes) and the constant influx of new digital content poses a real challenge for archivists. Hard disks are expensive and require a constant supply of electricity, while even the best 'no-power' archiving materials such as magnetic tape degrade within a decade. This is a growing problem in the life sciences, where massive volumes of data including DNA sequences make up the fabric of the scientific record.

"We already know that DNA is a robust way to store information because we can extract it from bones of woolly mammoths, which date back tens of thousands of years, and make sense of it," explains Nick Goldman of EMBL-EBI. "It's also incredibly small, dense and does not need any power for storage, so shipping and keeping it is easy."

Reading DNA is fairly straightforward, but writing it has until now been a major hurdle to making DNA storage a reality. There are two challenges: first, using current methods it is only possible to manufacture DNA in short strings. Secondly, both writing and reading DNA are prone to errors, particularly when the same DNA letter is repeated. Nick Goldman and co-author Ewan Birney, Associate Director of EMBL-EBI, set out to create a code that overcomes both problems.

"We knew we needed to make a code using only short strings of DNA, and to do it in such a way that creating a run of the same letter would be impossible. So we figured, let's break up the code into lots of overlapping fragments going in both directions, with indexing information showing where each fragment belongs in the overall code, and make a coding scheme that doesn't allow repeats. That way, you would have to have the same error on four different fragments for it to fail and that would be very rare," says Ewan Birney.

The new method requires synthesising DNA from the encoded information: enter Agilent Technologies, Inc, a California-based company that volunteered its services. Ewan Birney and Nick Goldman sent them encoded versions of: an .mp3 of Martin Luther King's speech, "I Have a Dream"; a .jpg photo of EMBL-EBI; a .pdf of Watson and Crick's seminal paper, "Molecular structure of nucleic acids"; a .txt file of all of Shakespeare's sonnets; and a file that describes the encoding.

"We downloaded the files from the Web and used them to synthesise hundreds of thousands of pieces of DNA the result looks like a tiny piece of dust," explains Emily Leproust of Agilent. Agilent mailed the sample to EMBL-EBI, where the researchers were able to sequence the DNA and decode the files without errors.

"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," says Nick Goldman. "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 there are many practical aspects to solve, the inherent density and longevity of DNA makes it an attractive storage medium. The next step for the researchers is to perfect the coding scheme and explore practical aspects, paving the way for a commercially viable DNA storage model.


'/>"/>
Contact: Mary Todd-Bergman
contactpress@ebi.ac.uk
44-122-349-4665
European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. New England Biolabs Introduces Polbase, an Information Repository of Scientific Data for Polymerase Researchers
2. In new quantum-dot LED design, researchers turn troublesome molecules to their advantage
3. Multidisciplinary team of researchers develop world’s lightest material
4. Researchers shrink tumors and minimize side effects using tumor-homing peptide to deliver treatment
5. Innovative MetaMorph® NX Software Shatters Barriers Between Researchers and Image Analysis Goals with Exclusive Visual Workflow
6. UCLA researchers demonstrate fully printed carbon nanotube transistor circuits for displays
7. Penn and Brown researchers demonstrate earthquake friction effect at the nanoscale
8. Two Top Biological Imaging Centers Offer Powerful Free Online Tool to Researchers, Educators, and Public
9. Researchers develop one of the worlds smallest electronic circuits
10. MU researchers identify key plant immune response in fight against bacteria
11. Researchers realize high-power, narrowband terahertz source at room temperature
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/29/2016)... Italy , April 29, 2016 ... 5.11, the latest update to its industry-leading treatment planning ... shown that Monaco version 5.11 ... can now attain calculation speeds up to four times ... . With the industry,s gold standard ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... ... April 28, 2016 , ... ... Connecticut's innovative, growing companies, today announced the launch of VentureClash , a ... companies. , “VentureClash looks to attract the best early-stage companies here ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... Connecticut (PRWEB) , ... April 28, 2016 , ... ... Group, Inc., will hold an open house for regional manufacturers at its Maple ... displays from Tsugami, Okuma, Hardinge Group, Chiron and Trumpf. Almost 20 leading ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... ... The Pittcon Organizing Committee is pleased to announce that Charles “Chuck” Gardner was named ... 1987. Since then, he has served in a number of key leadership positions including ... program and exposition committees. In his professional career, Dr. Gardner is the director of ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:3/9/2016)... Nigeria . Recently, ... 23,000 public service employees either did not exist with ... unlawfully.    --> Nigeria . ... than 23,000 public service employees either did not exist ... salary unlawfully.    --> DERMALOG, the biometrics ...
(Date:3/8/2016)... , March 8, 2016   Valencell ... technology, today announced it has secured $11M in ... GII Tech, a new venture fund being launched ... additional participation from existing investors TDF Ventures and ... funds to continue its triple-digit growth and accelerate ...
(Date:3/3/2016)... Calif. , March 3, 2016  2016FLEX, ... launched this week highlighting advancements in flexible, hybrid ... a record setting attendance - have gathered for ... this fast-growing field of electronics. The Flex Conference ... focal point for companies, R&D organizations, and universities ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):