a cesspool of interwebness

store data with live bacteria

Posted by BoxersFracture On 2007-02-27 1 comments

A research team said this week it had developed a technology for storing digital data in the DNA of bacteria, which unlike most living organisms can survive for millennia in the right conditions.

Each hay bacillus bacterium can store two megabits — the equivalent of 1.6 million Roman letters. The scientists can take out the microscopic implants in a laboratory and read them so they appear as ordinary text.

The team at Keio University’s Institute for Advanced Biosciences said the technology needs to be perfected but that it was optimistic about its future uses.

“If I wanted to store my personal diary in these live bacteria and take it with me to my grave, then my story can live for thousands and thousands of years,” head researcher Yoshiaki Ohashi said with a laugh.

In practical terms, the technology could eventually benefit companies such as pharmaceutical makers which want to “stamp” their brand.

“In doing so, the company can detect piracy and protect its patent. They can also store information at one specific area of the gene and retrieve it from there,” Ohashi said.

The researchers insert the data at four different places so even if one is disrupted, there would be backup.

But the team said they still needed to work before the technology could go on the market. In particular, the scientists need to ensure that the DNA will not be altered as live bacteria naturally evolve.

Hay bacillus bacteria are generally found in soil or decaying matter and are especially resistant to extreme weather.

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