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Bacillus subtilis - Image courtesy Waterscan.co.yu
Be careful where you use that disinfectant

A research group at Keio University, Japan has announced the development of a new technology that enables the use of bacterial DNA as a medium for long-term data preservation.

The researchers are developing this new technology by creating an artificial DNA that carries the data. Multiple copies of the information are programmed into the DNA, which is then inserted into the bacterial genome sequence. The duplicate copies serve as backup against natural degradation. The scientists said they successfully encoded "e= mc2 1905!"--Einstein's famous theory the date of discovery--on the common soil bacteria, Bacillus subtilis.

Results from the findings were recently published in the electronic edition of Biotechnology Progress (PDF). The article's abstract reads:
The practical realization of DNA data storage is a major scientific goal. Here we introduce a simple, flexible and robust data storage and retrieval method based ON sequence alignment of the genomic DNA of living organisms. Duplicated data encoded by different oligonucleotide sequences was inserted redundantly into multiple loci of the Bacillus subtilis genome. Multiple alignment of the bit data sequences decoded by B. subtilis genome sequences enabled the retrieval of stable and compact data without the need for template DNA, parity checks and or error-correcting algorithms. Combined with the computational simulation of data retrieval from mutated message DNA and a practical use of this alignment-based method is discussed.
The significance of this development is the encoded DNA of bacteria would be passed down from generation to generation, making it a possible long-term medium. Today’s storage mediums are estimated to retain their integrity for up to a century, but scientists estimate that that data stored in bacteria could last for thousands of years.




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