Thursday, July 27, 2017

Image Storage Inside DNA

Scientists at Harvard University have managed to encode images into the DNA of a living cell. They have created the prototype for a molecular recorder that they will use to collect data over a period of time. In order to make the molecular recorder the scientists used the immune defenses in bacteria that add the genetic code of a previously attacking virus into its own genome for future defense against the same virus. The scientists collected strands of synthetic DNA that encoded the positions and shades of image pixels, as the letters G,T,C and A. Then the strands of DNA were given to E. coli bacteria and they added the DNA to their own bacterial genome, as if the DNA were an infecting virus. After the E. coli had grown after about a week, the originally encoded image strands were found in the bacteria's genome. This proved that information can be accurately embedded, stored and received from live DNA. This could lend itself to multiple applications that involve recording events that occur in the body or other environments over time. Using DNA to store  and record information could allow us to acquire information easier than manually recording data. This technique once perfected could become a major asset to learning about our surroundings and even our own bodies.

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